Rs 8,700 cr dermatology market is the new king in the pharma sector

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Chronic therapies to treat blood sugar levels and heart conditions have dominated the growth charts in the Rs 1.3-trillion Indian pharma market for a long time. While these segments continue to grow, skin-related ailments, or dermatology, is making its presence felt for the first time. 

The Rs 8,700 crore dermatology market has been the fastest-growing therapy segment in the domestic market over the last three years, outperforming the larger categories of diabetes and cardiac treatments. In a recent note, CLSA attributed the growth to changing climatic conditions and pollution as they foster the spread of fungal diseases. Further, rising disposable incomes and e-commerce have helped drive the growth of the segment. 

Sudarshan Jain, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), which represents research-based pharma companies feels increasing awareness amongst patients and higher disposable incomes are among the factors that have led to the growth of this segment. "People are now more concerned about cosmetic derma products, for example, for wrinkles, baldness etc. This has led to more visits to doctors, and in turn, more prescriptions. Corporates are sensing this demand and are launching more products in this area,” he said. 

According to pharma market research firm AIOCD AWACS, there have been 1,263 brand launches in dermatology in the last five years, compared to 454 in anti-diabetic and 991 in cardiac segments. For Glenmark Pharma, sales from this segment account for a third of its India business. Firms such as USV, Torrent, Intas have clocked a 5-year CAGR of over 20 per cent in the therapy area, according to data from AIOCD AWACS. While GSK Pharma is the largest player, being marginally ahead of Glenmark, other companies in the area include Sun Pharma, Macleods, Mankind and Abbott. Some of the top brands in the derma segment are Betnovate (GSK), Betadine (Win Medicare), T Bact (GSK), Candid-B (Glenmark) among others. The higher focus on the segment is also a result of rising realisations per product and margins that are higher than other acute therapies. 

Annaswamy Vaidheesh, vice-president for South Asia and managing director for India at GSK Pharma, said the growing demand is primarily on account of higher levels of awareness about dermatological conditions and more spending power. "Both the cosmetic derma and clinical derma segments have been doing well. India has a tropical climate and fungal infections of the skin are common. This segment would continue to grow at a fast pace even in the coming years as it is still underpenetrated," he said. 

Another top official from a leading pharma firm which boasts of popular derma brands said dermatological medicines are often prescribed by general physicians (GPs) and not expert dermatology practitioners. "India does not have many dermatologists. These brands are often prescribed by other doctors too as they treat more or less common conditions. This would help boost the penetration of these products further," the official said, adding that this is a therapy area which falls both under chronic and acute illnesses. 

The dermatology market is divided between medicinal and cosmetic products. The medicinal segment is worth Rs 6,200 crore and includes topical steroids, anti-fungal and anti-infectives. Sunscreens, anti-acne and the hair care or anti-dandruff range of products make up the cosmetic category which is valued at Rs 2,500 crore. 

Strong growth     
  Sales (Rs crore) 5-year CAGR (%)
Indian pharma market                 129,601 9.51
Dermatology                     8,708 12.69
GSK Pharma 855 8.04
Glenmark 852 12.61
Sun Pharma 657 18.95
Hegde & Hegde 486 11.11
Abbott 438 13.62
Sales are for twelve months ended February 2019
Source: AIOCD AWACS    

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