Green shoots are visible in the domestic pharma industry, following a sharp decline in sales during the first quarter. In June, the sector clocked 2.4 per cent growth after a near-9 per cent fall in May and 11 per cent slump in April.
Most therapies have posted good numbers, indicating a revival in demand. Industry insiders, however, claim that the early rains and the low base of June 2019 played a part.
According to market research firm AIOCD AWACS, the domestic market registered negative growth of 5.9 per cent for the June quarter. However, on a moving annual turnover (MAT) basis, there was a 6.1 per cent growth in sales.
Ameesh Masurekar, director of AIOCD AWACS, said June 2019 had a low base given that the monsoon was delayed. “In comparison, the monsoon this year was early. This pushed up sales of categories such as anti-infectives.”
Masurekar, however, added that the revival in key therapies could be seen as a positive sign.
However, July growth was expected to be flat vis-à-vis June, according to AIOCD AWACS. “It is too early to assume the domestic market will return to high single-digit or double-digit growth anytime soon. July will be flat versus June, at 2-3 per cent growth,” said Masurekar.
Chronic therapy segments have bounced back, with the cardiac segment growing 11.8 per cent and anti-diabetic segment clocking 7 per cent growth. Respiratory medicines, too, have shown significant growth of 9.3 per cent in June.
With people gradually stepping out, the infection rate has increased. Demand for anti-infectives (antibiotics) and allergy medications has reduced. “For example, asthma attacks have reduced with more people staying home. This was reflected in sales of respiratory medicines,” said an analyst.
Edelweiss said firms such as Glenmark (13.1 per cent), Ajanta (9.3 per cent), Cipla (7.4 per cent), and Torrent (6.7 per cent) registered higher growth than the Indian Pharma market (IPM), while others like Alkem (-1.8 per cent), Natco (0.1 per cent), Zydus (0.2 per cent), Sun (0.8 per cent), Dr Reddy’s (1.1 per cent), Alembic (1.7 per cent), and Lupin (1.8 per cent) posted muted growth.
A Glenmark spokesperson clarified that the strong double-digit growth in June was not driven by the launch of favipiravir, an oral drug used to treat to mild Covid-19 symptoms. He added: “We have been consistently growing better than the market for the past few years.”