Focusing on pharmaceutical innovation funded by revenue from generics, Glenn Saldanha, the 44-year-old CEO of Mumbai-based Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Limited, stands apart from his peers. A firm supporter of the government's drug-pricing policy, Saldanha tells Pallavi Ail that despite foreign health regulators mounting scrutiny on Indian manufacturing plants, ANDA approvals show that US still relies upon India for its generic drugs.
What is your opinion on the amended Drugs Prices Control Order (DPCO) and the concept of having a regulated price cap on drugs?
The new drugs prices control policy is a step in the right direction. If you look across emerging markets, pricing policy is common and the regulator always tries to strike a balance between the needs of society and create a platform for a healthy generic industry. The pricing policy is quite well-balanced in that regard and a lot of thought and deliberations have gone into it prior to implementation. The list of products that are under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) constitute over 50% by volume of the total market, and thus a large portion of the industry is now under price control.
Do you think Indian pharma will move away eventually from generics to innovating new drugs?
Innovation leading to new drugs is critical for meeting hitherto unmet medical need. Existing drugs will continue to be important in meeting the growing demand for healthcare, particularly with the increasing use of generic medication. At the same time, advances in understanding of diseases and the application of new technologies will be required to ensure the delivery of new medicines. The challenges of improving R&D productivity is a critical challenge for the pharmaceutical industry.
India has the potential to graduate from a cost-competitive destination to a land of innovation. But this transition will take time. For example, it took Japan over three decades to make the transition to being an innovation destination. India has begun the journey and it will require a lot of support from the government to make this aspiration a reality.
Fortunately, at Glenmark, we are ahead on the learning curve as far as innovation is concerned, having taken our first steps 12-13 years ago. Today, Glenmark has gained expertise in many areas, right from discovering new molecules and being a significant player in the drug discovery space to developing and producing generic drugs—a model which now many western companies are trying to adopt. Having said that, building