Girish Arora, Founder and MD, Alniche Lifesciences shares the company’s plans and strategies to expand the business and increase profit margins, with Usha Sharma
Give us details about Alniche Lifesciences and its ongoing activities
Alniche’s path to success commenced in 2007, and within one decade of its operations, it achieved ambitious milestones. With a strong product portfolio, both domestic as well as those licensed from global pharma, Alniche fulfils the unmet needs of patients in the areas of nephrology, critical care, gastroenterology, dermatology, advanced wound care and neuro-psychiatry.
Recently, the company ventured into manufacturing with EffiKasia Lifesciences. Why did you take this step?
Alniche has been acing through its ventures since its inception. Adding to the list is a recent initiative – EffiKasia Lifesciences. The newly established state-of-the-art manufacturing unit is aimed at manufacturing pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, and cosmeceuticals. With our growing sales across various therapy-verticals, there has always been a need for back-end integration by setting up our manufacturing plant. EffiKasia is established with the mission of manufacturing for Alniche and as a reliable contract manufacturing organisation. With this initiative, Alniche plans to increase its profit margins and push top-line by expanding sales operations for exports in semi-regulated markets. Additionally, with our own manufacturing setup, the company plans to compete in the institutional tender business thus setting up a new revenue vertical.
EffiKasia Lifesciences is involved in manufacturing pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and dermatological products? Which of these are going to get greater focus and why?
Globally, healthcare is shifting towards prophylaxis and the role of nutraceuticals is getting established as an extended vertical of the pharma and wellness industry. Thus, we decided to venture into this segment for manufacturing and marketing various top-of-the-line nutraceutical formulations both in the domestic and exports markets. Moreover, with increasing awareness among the masses especially the younger generation, the use of dermatologicals and cosmeceuticals is increasing exponentially. We shall be formulating differentiated skin and hair care product range.
Presently, which are the therapeutic segments you have tapped? How many products have you already launched? How many more are in the pipeline and by when are they likely to hit the market?
Currently, Alniche is present in six therapeutic segments namely Nephrology, Critical Care, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, advanced wound care and neuropsychiatry. We have more than 350 products in the market which belong to various therapeutic groups.
Alniche is a pioneer in conceptualising and commercialising many novel product concepts in India to enrich product portfolio, like:
- Ketoanalogue range in sachet limiting the intake of fluid for patients with kidney impairment by reducing pill burden
- Auxisoda – enteric-coated tablets preventing GI irritation, Research and patented products (Complipro and Ezepro – Ready-To-Drink Protein Formula) in collaboration with DPSRU. Wetfast MD – Mouth dissolving lozenge reducing the overload of fluid in CKD patients.
- Entasafe – a unique combination of pre-probiotics and minerals to control the adverse effects of long-term use of PPIs.
To promote the ‘Make in India’ concept and encourage Indian researchers to come up with novel technologies and products, Alniche has formed an R&D alliance with Delhi Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research University (DPSRU), Government of N.C.T. This affiliation of industry and academia promises to augment further development of new products enabling innovations to meet the medical needs of the Indian population.
To facilitate improved healthcare, Alniche is driven by the vision of bringing novel products across various therapies and being the preferred partner of Global Lifesciences Organisations’. These companies include Alliance (UK), FzioMed (US), Adhezion Biomedical (US), Mastix (US), Biovite (Australia), PT Dermozone Pratama (Indonesia), J W Life Science (Korea), Dongkook (Korea), SK Plasma (Korea), Senquin (Netherlands) and Mellow Hope (China).
Next in the pipeline is therapy differentiation and ground-breaking product concepts which are to be engineered in collaboration with various global companies.
How are you enhancing your capabilities in the pharma R&D space?
For any life sciences organisation, R&D is a fundamental aspect, as it is crucial to the long-term success of the pharma industry and the wider lifesciences sector. 10 per cent of Alniche profits are spent on new formulation development and R&D initiatives. The key objective here is to develop effective formulations not only for diseases that are prevalent globally but also for diseases that are specific to India and other tropical countries, thus contributing towards the creation of a healthier world.
Tell us how COVID -19 has changed the paradigm of pharma marketing and what are your strategies to communicate about your brands to healthcare professionals?
2020 became a year targeted with the crisis followed by the global health pandemic. Alniche, being a leading life sciences brand in India, responded by offering its exclusive Critical Care range inclusive of the COVID-19 treatment, supportive and immunity booster therapies, CurCutop tablets (Patented Immunity booster), Vitamin C injection, Ulinastatin injections, Thymosin Alpha 1 injections, Favipiravir tablets and Remdesivir injection.
Implementing the right marketing strategy with the right set of portfolios for the right target audience is the focus for Alniche. A well designed scientific marketing strategy to repetitively engage with the doctors kept us ahead of competitors. This involves various programmes like organising CMEs, Symposia, Web hosting, Teleconsultations, Disease info and management, advocacy development, Newsrooms, Latest Therapeutic regimen journal Release, Practice support and decision enhancement tools and few others. Each therapy is promoted by a different team thus bringing the required Positioning focus with minimal overlap.
Adapting to the latest requirements of society in healthcare and technology are the key principles of today. Both being complicated worlds with dynamic natural products has resulted in Alniche’s enhanced efforts to promote its brands by employing various digital media techniques like e-mail marketing, web posters and disease-specific promotion on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Quora.
Will digital marketing be the way forward?
With an expected billion network devices and millions of Indians hooked to the internet, we can expect India to ride the digital age with innovation and be the benchmark for the world. The digital age brings its own set of unique challenges and success that will help the companies take benefit of this technology to market their services and brands to the target audience.
Based on the products, digital marketing campaigns are channelised, to engage with HCP’s and gaining customers. It’s a cost-effective and versatile marketing vehicle to suit different needs. We have started a Digital marketing initiative “My Healthytude”. Through this initiative, we share the latest medical updates with HCPs and consumers on various social media.
What is the manpower strength of the company and do you plan to increase it further?
Currently, we employ field people at various levels from business manager to Director Marketing, all hierarchies in between. The total strength today is 750. Being a fast-growing company, hiring employees is an ongoing process to match the growth of the market size. In the head office, there is a team of 100 employees who handle various functions supporting the operations of the organisation.
Why does the company plan to expand its manufacturing capacities for contract manufacturing activities, give us a brief update about the business strategy?
The Indian CMO market was valued at $ 9.04 billion in 2019, and it is expected to reach $ 23.72 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 17.6 per cent, during the period of 2020-2025.
Over the past few decades, India has taken a major leap from pharma production, to include contract manufacturing. In basic manufacturing of medical drugs and products, India has a far superior edge over nations, such as Vietnam, China, and Ireland, due to resources including manpower, technically knowledgeable workforce, and WHO-GMP approved production premises.
In addition to its own requirements, Alniche plans to expand into CMO, because of the various advantages it offers. Alniche has strategically planned to enter contract manufacturing through its manufacturing firm EffiKasia Lifesciences. Our business strategy is to enter export markets in less regulated geographies and once we get a firm foot in these markets, we will expand to regulated markets.
Globally, how do see the regulatory landscape evolving?
India is fast becoming the global manufacturing hub for pharma products. Our products match the quality standards meet some of the most stringent international regulatory bodies like the US FDA, UK MHRA and others. They also match the quality standards of Indian pharmacopoeia, US and British Pharmacopeia. I will give the credit for the quality of our products to the stringent regulatory standards set by Indian FDA (CDSCO). It is good to have an evolved regulatory landscape to manufacture the best quality products and we plan to adhere to the regulatory norms in toto.
How are you strengthening your international business presence?
Currently, Alniche is focused on domestic markets. With the start of manufacturing arm EffiKasia, we have paved the way for international business. We plan to capture the less regulated markets first and then move on to other markets. To start with, we will enter these markets with Nutraceuticals and Skinceuticals. Post regulatory approval of our manufacturing unit, a few countries will remain our focus for international business which are Africa, CIS countries, Middle East, and South-East Asian countries.
For the next two years, what are your business plans? How do you intend to execute them?
In the next two years, Alniche plan to diversify its operations in various field related to pharma business.
- Exports: The first and the foremost is “exports” as there is immense business potential in the segment and the market size is huge. Indian pharmaceutical products are having excellent credibility in other countries hence India features among the top five pharma exporters in the world.
- Institutional business: The government of India is the largest purchaser of medicines. There are large enterprises that also purchase through tender business like DGAFMS, Indian Railways, ESI, CGHS, NTPC, ITBP, BSF etc. Alniche plans to capture a part of this institutional business pie in the coming years
- Online B2C in healthcare: Patients having chronic diseases are regular consumers of medicines. Alniche plans to supply the medicines for chronic therapies directly to the patients by setting up an online facility
- Expansion in the domestic market: Alniche will expand its operation in new therapy segments – Cardio-diabetic, Gynec, Ortho as these are fastgrowing therapeutic groups with immense business potential
Do you plan to list the entity in the capital market?
Currently, we don’t have plans to list Alniche Lifesciences on the Capital market but in future, this might be a reality considering our plan to achieve Rs 1000 crores in the next five years.