GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, which has strong brands such as Augmentin (used to treat different infections caused by bacteria) says restrictions on certain combination drugs, apart from monitoring the use of antibiotics, have resulted in slower growth of the segment. Last year, the government had banned a little over 300 fixed dose combinations on safety issues and lack of therapeutic justification.
"In the past 2-3 years, there have been a lot of awareness programmes created around responsible use of antibiotics. Through our representatives, we promote the concept of monitoring the use (over, under or wrong use) of antibiotics. Wrong use was very high at one point and is coming down," said Annaswamy Vaidheesh, vice-president for South Asia, and managing director for India at GSK Pharma.
He felt many of the smaller companies
within the top 100 in the domestic market, operating at very low price points in this segment, were not doing that well.
Another reason given in the industry is that many firms have started diversifying their portfolios and enhanced their focus on the chronic segment — Alkem, Torrent Pharma, Mankind Pharma and so on.
R K Baheti, finance head at Alembic Pharmaceuticals, said they had not been launching many new products in the anti-infectives space. Alembic's major presence in the segment is in a category called macrolides (a first-line treatment but with better efficacy and lower dosage frequency). The category is not growing very fast and new introductions have been low. Alembic says it has managed to grow better than the industry in this category.
"A clampdown on combination drugs, and enhanced focus on chronic therapies (like diabetes, hypertension, etc) have affected growth of the anti-infectives segment," says Baheti.
Data from market research firm AIOCD AWACS shows that compared to a 10.6 per cent five-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for Sun Pharma, its anti-infectives portfolio has seen only 6.15 per cent. Torrent Pharma has seen a decline (minus 6.3 per cent) in the five-year CAGR for anti-infectives, when the overall growth of the company is 10.5 per cent a year.
According to Edelweiss, sompany-wise, Alkem is the largest player, with around 10 per cent market share in the anti-infectives space. Other top players include Aristo Pharma, Cipla, Macleods and Sun Pharma.
It said: "Anti-infectives is IPM’s largest therapy area, accounting for 13.5 per cent of the IPM or around Rs 18,000 crore. It is a seasonal therapy that used to grow at 10-12 per cent but has moderated in recent times, and has settled at 7.5 per cent growth as of December 2018."