India is a must-win country for us, will invest in new products: Sanofi MD

N Rajaram, MD, Sanofi India
.French drugmaker Sanofi has stepped up its focus on India with investment in new facilities and introduction of products and therapies for domestic market and export. The multinational pharmaceutical company, headquartered in Paris, is eyeing 9-12 per cent growth across various verticals.

Speaking to Business Standard, N Rajaram, managing director of Sanofi India, said the company was not only working on bringing in new global drugs to India but it was keen on ramping up exports. New products would primarily be in therapy areas — atopic dermatitis, diabetes, and neurological disorder multiple sclerosis.  Sanofi, which operates in India for six decades (it has its origins in Hoechst Fedco Pharma since 1956), considers its market as a must-win country. The share of India market is around 1 per cent of its global revenue but the country remains crucial for its emerging market strategy. 

Sanofi ranks first among global players in the emerging markets, according to market research agency IQVIA’s global pharma sales audit. Globally, it ranks fifth among the Big Pharma. 

“We will invest in India in manufacturing, people, and services. It is an important country for us,” Rajaram said. “Since 2012, we have invested Rs18 billion in India. This is in addition to the Rs40-billion investment it made to acquire Shantha Biotechnics in 2009.”

Rajaram said investments on capacity addition were more or less a continuous process, be it on upgrade in Shantha or in capacity augmentation at the company’s Goa or Ankleshwar (Gujarat) plants. The firm is also setting up a Rs3.5-billion facility for insulin cartridges.

Ranjit Kapadia, analyst with Centrum Broking, said, “The company has launched Toujeo at a 40 per cent premium over its insulin product Lantus.”

Lantus is one of the highest selling insulin products in the country and the largest product for the company in India. As competition induced pricing pressure, Toujeo would drive revenue for Sanofi in India, analysts said. 

Kapadia said Amaryl (anti-diabetic) and Combiflam (pain reliever) had been doing well on pharmaceutical front. Its Hexaxim (used as preventive against six diseases) has grown into a Rs1.75-billion franchise. 

Rajaram said the company had been discussing with the government over the introduction of dengue vaccine.

Last year, Sanofi’s anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia generated controversy and the firm was forced to stop vaccination programme in Philippines after the company admitted the product posed higher risks to people without prior dengue infection. “We are awaiting government-instituted study report on dengue prevalence in India,” Rajaram said.

Notwithstanding the setback in 2017, Sanofi’s turnover across its pharmaceuticals, consumer health care, vaccines, and exports in India Rs35 billion. Sanofi India exported Rs7 billion in bulk drugs, medical devices and vaccines to nearly 60 countries last year.