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‘We may look at scaling to 50 per cent growth in the next financial year’

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Manish Jain, Managing Director of Cilicant Chem, a company that provides solutions to protect highly moisture-sensitive products from the harmful effects of moisture or humidity for the desiccant market, discusses the company’s growth strategy with Akanki Sharma

What was the need to come up with Cilicant Chem?
Medicine spending in India is projected to grow nine to 12 per cent over the next five years, leading India to become one of the top 10 countries in terms of medicine spending. Pharma is amongst few industries which understand the criticality of having the right active packaging in the formulation of the product’s shelf life. Selection of active packaging is thus based upon many stability studies and trials.

Given this scenario, the active packaging in India, primarily has been coming from multi-national players, when India is definitely poised to manufacture the same international standard and quality indigenously.

Cilicant Chem was born out of that passion – the need for an indigenous source which will manufacture the right quality of active packaging to protect the products from degrading effects of moisture and oxygen.

Tell us about the solutions you offer to the pharma industry and other stakeholders.
Our products CILICANTFG desiccants sachets and canisters, and CILICANT oxygen absorbers have been specially designed for usage in primary packaging of pharmaceutical products, medical devices, diagnostic kits and food products. It adheres to the international quality standard and meets the requirement of US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA)standards with respect to Type III DMF (Drug Master File). Hence, it is completely safe for direct food contact in accordance with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requirement of 21 CFR. We have an array of desiccant solutions which ensures protection from the harmful effects of moisture and oxygen and provides the much required extended shelf life. The other industries include nutraceutical, medical devices, processed food, electronic equipments, etc.

How do you ensure the affordability and cost-efficiency of your solutions?
Quality is the prerequisite to many of our customers and they have been willing to pay for the right active packaging product that is available in the market anywhere today. Therefore, at Cilicant, we adhere to strict quality control to provide the right product which makes our active packaging solutions cost-effective. We never compromise on the stringent measures that we have upheld for the safety of our customers, which in turn, safeguard the health of the end consumer.

What is the growth rate of desiccant markets in India as compared to other countries?
Indian companies received 304 Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) approvals from US FDA in 2017. The country accounts for around 30 per cent (by volume) and about 10 per cent (value) in the $70-80 billion US generics market.

The desiccant market has been playing a significant role in extending the shelf life of many life-saving drugs and medical devices. The market today is largely unorganised, but is moving towards the organised sector. The Indian government has also taken many steps to reduce costs and bring down healthcare expenses. Speedy introduction of generic drugs into the market has remained in focus and is expected to benefit the Indian pharmaceutical companies. In addition, the thrust on rural health programmes, life-saving drugs and preventive vaccines also augurs well for the pharmaceutical companies.

Going forward, better growth in domestic pharmaceutical sales would also depend on the ability of companies to align their product portfolio towards chronic therapies for diseases like cardiovascular, anti-diabetes, anti-depressants and anti-cancers that are on the rise.
With the increase in demand for pharmaceuticals and medical devices, there is a definite need to improve not just the quality, but provide for a safe extended shelf life sans preservatives. This calls for a safe reliable desiccant that cannot only enhance the shelf life, but provides for a safer consumption for the end consumer. These have been significant growth drivers for the desiccant market and the sector is growing at a healthy rate of 18 per cent.

In what ways do healthcare products get affected due to moisture? How is a moisture absorber different from an oxygen absorber? Kindly elaborate in terms of their applications.
Moisture can hamper and shorten the shelf life of pharmaceutical products by leading to degradation, inferior efficacy, physical and chemical instability of the formulation.

Desiccant absorbs only moisture and stabilises the formulation and ensures an extended shelf life of the product. Oxygen causes the formulation to oxidise resulting in rancidity, mould growth, degradation, odour, etc. ultimately shortening the shelf life of the product. The oxygen absorber, on the other hand, absorbs and reduces the oxygen content within the packed products to 0.01 per cent, which helps to extend the shelf life of the product. Therefore, desiccant is to moisture and oxygen absorber is to oxygen, both have different purpose and abilities.

Who all do you sell your products to, and what is your current business scale?
We have partnered with over 150 pharma companies to provide right and active quality packaging. Nutraceuticals and medical devices companies are others. Our current scale of business is at 30 per cent year on year. We may look at scaling to 50 per cent growth in the next financial year.

How does your manufacturing facility in Pune function? What are your growth plans for the next five years?
The quality checks that go into the manufacturing and packaging of the desiccant follow a strict regimen. Every stage of production is stringently monitored and controlled to warrant the highest quality and most efficient performance of the product. The various elements right from temperature and RH control to the quality of sachets to the medical grade ink that’s used to print, and the area of storage to transport, have all been analysed threadbare to ensure the highest safety standard. The steps are followed stringently to provide for a safe use of the desiccant product both by the manufacturer and the end-user.

Some of the other significant features include: made in India by indigenous company (amongst the ruling multinational/ foreign companies); a dedicated cGMP & ISO 15378:2017 certified manufacturing facility for manufacturing; assurance that a robust quality management system is in place so that the quality of the products manufactured is not compromised in any way; emphasis on product safety and quality in every step of the process to ensure the right quality of desiccants to keep the pharmaceutical shelf life extended. With the growing population, and with the growing demand in the desiccant industry for quality products that adhere to international safety, we are confident to be the number one active packaging manufacturer in India with international presence in the next five years.

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