Natco Pharma bets on complex generics to build its international biz

An oncology focused Indian generic drugmaker, Natco devised its own strategy of going after complex, difficult-to-make products in a marketing partnership with big companies like Mylan and Dr Reddy's, while relying on the domestic market for a short-gestation generics business.

"At Natco, we have relied on our R&D, manufacturing capabilities and strategic partners to drive growth through focus on niche products, no matter how long it takes to develop it. We have carefully chosen to balance a long-gestation approach for the US market, with shorter gestation and high growth opportunities in the Indian market," the company said in its annual report.

Last year in October, in the US, Natco Pharma launched generic multiple sclerosis drug glatiramer acetate (g-Copaxone) upon receiving final US FDA approval by its marketing partner Mylan. This has kept the firm's faith in long-gestation complex generic products intact. 

g-Copaxone has significantly contributed to the company's bottom-line in 2017-18 with net profit growing at 43 per cent at Rs 6.95 billion even though the revenues from its generic Hepatitis-C drug (Sofosbuvir) were impacted by a significant price erosion. According to Natco, a decade of R&D work had gone into the development of g-Copaxone while its marketing partnership with Mylan brought the crucial last mile efforts to the table in getting the regulatory approvals. 

The year 2017-18 marked  another significant approval involving generic Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Liposome Injection, filed its co-development and marketing partner Dr Reddy's Laboratories Limited. The company shot to fame in 2012 when it was granted compulsory license to make a generic version of Bayer's anti-cancer drug Nexawar by the Indian patents office. 

The company has a strong portfolio of Oncology products that forms a significant portion of its domestic business. While the domestic business accounts for 32 per cent of its total revenues the share of its international formulations business rose to 47 per cent thanks to some of these new launches, including generic Osaltamivir and Liposomal Doxorubicin.

Natco Pharma management is also trying to to diversify the business into other important therapeutic areas just as its bigger peers did in the past. Besides its licensed specialty Hepatitis-C product, company has moved to cardiology and diabetology segments with a couple of launches last year.

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