Vaccines (18.2 per cent), dermatology (12.3 per cent), anti-diabetics (14 per cent) and sex stimulants (10.4 per cent) are some of the fastest growing categories in 2017. Anti-diabetics has been a leading therapy for around five years, consistently clocking double digit growth rates and peaking in 2015 at 23.8 per cent.
As drug firms enhance their focus on OTC medicines, categories like dermatology, vitamins, pain and analgesics have been featuring in the key therapy areas that are witnessing the most number of drug launches. As per Nicholas Hall 2017 report , the Indian OTC market is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of nine per cent to cross the $6.5-billion (Rs 441.1 billion) mark by 2026.
Only recently, India’s second largest pharma major Lupin forayed into the OTC segment when it re-launched its 34-year old legacy brand Softovac (constipation and irregular bowel habits medication) as an OTC product.
In November last year, Ahmedabad-based Torrent Pharma acquired Unichem Lab’s India business, which has popular OTC brands like Unienzyme. Nandini Piramal-led consumer products division of Piramal Enterprises too acquired Digeplex, a gastro-intestinal brand from Shreya Lifesciences recently. Piramal’s consumer arm acquired four OTC brands from Pfizer last year.
Analysts said a renewed focus on the OTC segment stems from the sluggish prescription growth.
Segments that have slipped into negative territory in terms of growth (value) in 2017 are anti-malarials (-21.9 per cent) and anti-infectives (-2.6 per cent). Cardiology therapy growth rate too slowed down in 2017 (6.7 per cent) — it was clocking double-digit growth rates for the past few years. Growth in the respiratory segment also has been slowing — from a 13.6 per cent growth rate in 2015 to 3.2 per cent in 2017.