Capsules are laid out for inspection on a production line (Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg)

Domestic Pharma Growth Slows To Four-Month Low In March

The sales of domestic pharmaceutical companies in March grew at the slowest pace in four months because of falling demand for drugs used to treat seasonal ailments like flu and cough as the winter season came to an end.

Sales growth of domestic pharma firms slowed to 6.4 percent year-on-year in March compared to 8.9 percent in February 2019. The sales fell as companies rationalised their portfolio to improve profitability, Alankar Garude, pharma analyst at Macquarie, said.

The chronic segment grew at 13 percent, cushioning the overall growth in March. Therapies like anti-diabetic, dermatology, vitamins and cardiology showed double-digit growth, therapies like gastro and anti-infectives lagged, according to IQVIA data shared by brokerages. The industry grew at 10.5 percent for the financial year 2018-19, it said.

Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Lupin Ltd. and Cipla Ltd. outperformed the market, CLSA analyst Alok Dalal said, adding that Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Cadila Healthcare Ltd. grew slower than the market, mainly due to the ongoing restructuring in their India business.

  • Pricing growth of pharma companies remained strong for several months, the data showed. Prices rose 3 percent in FY19 as opposed to a decline of 1.5 percent in the previous fiscal, according to CLSA.
  • Volume growth for the industry stood at 3.7 percent as opposed to 3.1 percent in the previous year and 2.2 percent in FY17.
  • The new launches segment, however, grew at the slowest pace in the last three years at 3.8 percent.

Sales of Sun Pharma’s top 10 brands grew in double digits but was hurt by the slowdown in other products which grew in single digits in March. Glenmark and Lupin grew above 10 percent, continuing the momentum. Cipla’s 10-percent-plus growth came on seasonal factors. Torrent Pharma’s smaller brands dragged its overall growth. Dr. Reddy’s and Cadila Health too reported weak growth.

Outlook

  • CLSA expects the domestic market sales to grow at 10-12 percent in FY20
  • Jefferies expects a 10 percent growth in sales.
  • Macquarie expects the domestic market sales to grow at around 12 percent in FY20.