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Kusum Healthcare is growing geographically as well as product wise

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Sanjeev Gupta, MD, Kusum Group of Companies, opines that there is a need for increasing awareness among medical practitioners about the benefits of suppository and pessaries. In an interaction, he reveals more about the new manufacturing facility in Indore, the company’s future plans and key initiatives taken by the present government

Kusum Healthcare is planning to set up its new formulation plant in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Which products will be manufactured from this facility and for which markets?

We are investing around ₹ 108 Crores and required funds will be arranged by internal accurals. From the new facility annually will be manufacturing tablets 262 millions, capsules 67.2 millions, sachet 24 millions. We will also have capacity for granules and effervescent tablets. Products manufactured from this facility will be for both domestic as well as international markets. And we have already started validation batches which are as good as commercial batches.

You have plans to develop wax-based suppository and pessary products from the new manufacturing facilities. Will it be for global markets or Indian?
Suppository and pessary products will be majorly for global markets, as the requirement of these products in Indian market is still limited. We may introduce some products here as per demand. However, our manufacturing facility at Block II Bhiwadi will specifically manufacture topical products.

Why are Indian medical practitioners not encouraging suppository and pessary products in India?

Suppository and pessary are administered through vaginal or rectal modes. There could be multiple reasons regarding these being unpopular. While being administered, these drugs come in contact with rectal mucosa which may cause irritation or slight damage. Other than this, patients may not be willing to the administration mode which may affect adherence to treatment. The mode of absorptions is not as convenient as other modes for Indian society, and hence it is less acceptable. Also, the gastrointestinal state affects absorption of the medicines.

How to create awareness among doctor and patient communities on the advantages of these products?

Awareness is low in India pertaining to suppository and pessaries amongst both doctor and patient communities, although the former has better understanding. Both need to be sensitised about the benefits which includes faster absorption, can be administered easily to paediatric and unconscious patients, does not cause vomiting or gastric issues, can be administered to patients with vomiting and to whom oral intake is restricted.

In case of pessaries, high concentration can be delivered at the effected site without causing much systemic effect, because of which frequency and duration of dose can be decreased, eradication of disease and compliance increased. The first line is to convince doctors to start prescribing them and explain the patients the way to administer them. Once patients understand the product and its benefits, they will begin using it. Also, through various advisories, campaigns and advertisements, the benefits of these products can be popularised. At the same time, it is important to educate patients on the disadvantages such as rectal/vaginal irritation, so that they are cautioned but not alarmed.

What role can pharma companies play in creating this awareness?

Pharma companies can partner with healthcare facilities in promoting ways to deliver drugs and can have seminars in both rural and urban areas to promote the concept and the advantages of such delivery systems.

Tell us about your marketing strategies. How are you expanding your horizons in the Indian market?

Kusum Healthcare is growing geographically and also product wise. Currently the company has its presence in 10 countries and has manufacturing units in two countries. We have over 100 products and lot of new products in the pipeline for existing as well as upcoming markets . We are increasing our presence in 11 countries in Africa and also in Latin America. Successfully completing all the audits of these countries, by end of November 2018, we will be starting our operations in Kenya. By 2020, we should be having registrations in six African countries and two to three in Latin America apart from CIS countries. Kusum visions to open plants in other parts of world also. For the Indian markets, at present, we are in eight states and we aim to provide quality and quantity in all these states and then slowly cater to other markets as well.

In 2009, the company started its pharmacovigilance cell. How did it help the company grow ? What steps are you taking to boost it further?

The existence of pharmacovigilance cell confirms that the company has a mechanism to give continued support in not only analysing the side effects, but building and updating a mechanism to prevent incidents in the future. This cell also makes sure that quality issues and the lack of efficacy are tackled in a more scientific way. This cell also resolves many issues regarding the presence or absence of scientific data pertaining to indications of any products in different cases. The presence of such cell gives confidence to prescribers to use products of the company and get support in case their patients suffer from side effects..

For OTC products – the presence of Pharmacovigilance cell confirms that the information shared in different forms of media are based on scientific knowledge and no false claims are advertised. The presence of the cell gives confidence to the consumers that there is a system in the company to whom they can approach in case some side effects occur to them and they believe that the company is confident in its quality – which makes them create this cell even when there was no regulatory requirement.

Hence, the presence of this cell boosted the confidence in both the prescribers and the consumers – which helped the company grow at a rapid pace.

Steps to boost confidence in prescribers and consumers will be to conduct scientific seminars for prescribers, creating scientific monographs for each product, patient education programmes in forms of medical camps, creating better delivery systems to overcome many side effects.

Overall, what are your capex plans and investments for this year?

We have chalked out our capex plans and below mentioned capex shall be funded out from internal accurals only.

Bhiwadi – Rs. 600 lakhs
Indore – Rs. 2800 lakhs
HO – Rs. 260 lakhs
Ukraine – Rs. 1000 lakhs
Total – Rs. 4660 lakhs

Tell us about the impact of GST on the pharma industry?

The overall impact of GST on pharma industry has been majorly positive. Like any other industry, there were teething troubles when the policy was implemented. However, as and when the system got streamlined and with better understanding, things began to fall into place. Implementation of GST has improved transparency in manufacturing and distribution. It has created opportunities to make supply chain more efficient and have made the job work model or loan licensing model relatively simpler and clear. It has eliminated the cascading effect of multiple taxes on a single product.

Kusum Healthcare is more than two decades old and has established a strong presence in the international markets. Give us an update on your international presence?

The Kusum Group is one of the most recognised names in the pharma industry in the CIS economies of Ukraine, where it has been running a fully integrated R&D, manufacturing, quality testing and monitoring, marketing and distributing operation. They also have operations in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Moldova, Malaysia and Cambodia in the ASEAN markets of Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam, apart from India. We are presently looking towards developing and growing economies, and plan to spread towards African countries in the near future.

What are your plans for the developed markets?

Our main focus remains towards developing economies where we hope to find more consumer base than developed countries and we are moving forward in that direction.

This year, the Make in India initiative will be celebrating its fourth anniversary. What are your views on the initiative and its impact?

‘Make in India’ is the way India needs to go and we are in agreement with the government’s intention and objectives on this front. Out of our four manufacturing units, three are in India, two in Bhiwadi (2007 and 2015), and the latest one in Indore (2018). Any policy of this nature needs a longer duration to show impactful results; the important thing is that we’re looking at the right direction.

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