Lockdown serves domestic pharma the bitter pill: April growth slips

Acute therapy-focused firms like Wockhardt and Alkem Laboratories saw steep decline in April numbers - 26.9 per cent and 16.6 per cent, respectively
After growing by almost 9 per cent in March when panicky consumers stocked up on chronic medication, the domestic pharmaceutical market declined 11.2 per cent year-on-year (YoY) in April.

The prime drag on the market was the drop in sales of acute therapy medicines like antibiotics, apart from dermatological and gynaecological drugs that witnessed sharp fall.

According to the data from market research firm AIOCD AWACS, anti-infectives (which comprise 11 per cent of the domestic pharma market) fell 21.5 per cent, while gyanaecological drugs (around 5 per cent of the market) dropped 23 per cent. The dermatology segment (6 per cent of the market) fell 22.5 per cent.

A senior executive with an acute therapy-focused company said people managed to ward off infection by staying indoors. This resulted in a fall in the sale of antibiotics.
Segments like dermatology, gyanaecology, vaccines, etc depend on fresh prescriptions. With the lockdown in place for the entire month of April, there was hardly any fresh prescription from doctors.

If one compares the Indian pharma market on a month-on-month basis, the fall is much sharper, at around 19 per cent," the senior executive added.

The firm is now actively pursuing doctors through webinars. It is also helping doctors to on-board several telemedicine platforms to generate prescriptions.

Acute therapy-focused firms like Wockhardt and Alkem Laboratories saw steep decline in April numbers - 26.9 per cent and 16.6 per cent, respectively.

Analysts at Motilal Oswal Securities (MOSL) pointed out that for firms like Alkem, the sales growth was weighed down by decline in anti-infectives (minus 20.2 per cent YoY), which form almost 40 per cent of the company's sales.

While most firms have reported decline in sales growth, Mumbai-based JB Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals - the makers of Metrogyl - saw 5 per cent YoY growth in April, riding on the cardiac segment.

MOSL analysts said JB Chemicals' performance was driven by 30.8 per cent YoY growth in the company's cardiac segment.

Pranabh Mody, president, JB Chemicals, told Business Standard that it had launched a drug in the segment before Lockdown 1.0 through webinars with doctors.

While panic buying had increased sales of cardiac and anti-diabetic segments in March, these did not fare too badly in April either - posting  5.9 per cent and 6.4 per cent YoY growth, respectively.

Ipca Laboratories - the makers of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine - posted 35.7 per cent growth in the sales of anti-malarial drugs.


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