Anil Bhasin, Vice President, Enterprise, Cisco India & SAARC
India: today's global pharma 'destination'
Growing at a rate of 8-9 per cent per year, the pharmaceutical industry in India is pegged to reach $48 billion by the year 2007 according to a CII study. This growth has led the players in the Indian pharmaceutical industry to explore newer avenues of drug research, discovery and development, promising higher capital investments in the near future. Also, many multinational companies have entered India to market drugs and conduct clinical trails and research. Thus, Indian pharmaceutical research, manufacturing, and outsourcing have received an impetus, creating the image of a land of opportunities in the pharmaceuticals space.
The same CII study also predicts that India could become a global pharma hub by exporting domestically produced generic products and presenting itself as an offshoring destination for clinical and pre-clinical research and other support services. In addition, there is tremendous potential presented in the Indian pharma market itself. Consumer spending on healthcare went up from 4 per cent of GDP in 1995 to 7 per cent in 2007. That number is expected to go upto 13 per cent of GDP by 2015. According to a recent McKinsey report, that will turn India into a $20 billion pharma market. This implies that pharma companies will have a huge R&D, sales and marketing network spread across geographies and their telecommunication costs can grow exponentially. Therefore, pharma companies need to embrace technology that can offer dynamic lines of communication between the global markets and its manufacturing and research centres in India. Ultimately, Indian's growth as a global player hinges on its ability to overcome challenges and given the present scenario, integrating and facilitating cost-effective communication is a major challenge.
Contract research and clinical trials: golden goose for Indian pharma sector
In particular, India is poised to emerge as a key contract research hub.
Networking and communications technology is considered the enabler for many aspects of the contract research and clinical trial business. The application of technology has the potential to vastly improve:
Some specific challenges that plague the Indian pharma industry:
System thinking based communication platforms could help pharma companies overcome these obstacles by developing an electronic clinical development system based on Internet platform initiatives.
Consider the edge that they provide:
Secure extranets for research partners
R&D supply-chain management
E-learning and shared work space
R&D command centers
Rapid changes in the Indian pharma landscape driving IT adoption
In the early days of the Indian Pharmaceutical industry , there was a stiff price war amongst companies as they focused on reverse engineering of complex molecules at lower costs and manufactured "me-too" products with same therapeutic properties. Now, Indian pharma companies are focusing ramping up their R&D capabilities to focus on new drug regimes and newer molecules. This renewed focus on R&D re-iterates the need for robust and secure networks for large data transactions.
Small and medium sized Indian pharma companies are still not convinced about the long-term benefits of adopting cutting-edge technology due to constraints such as budgets and limited infrastructure. Although the SME pharma market is very large and has tremendous potential it is yet to be tapped to its full potential. Many Indian SME pharma companies are not into drug research and testing. Still, they need technology to improve efficiency in quality assurance and control, and for adherence to regulatory requirements for operation and testing, improving batch tracking and expiry date tracking, optimizing credit and logistics control, consolidating sales promotions, discounts, and purchase-sales-inventory analysis and optimally tracking consignment sales.
Pharma companies riding the Internet economy
The Internet economy is rapidly changing the face of the pharmaceutical industry by delivering new web-enabled solutions to solve many business and primary care issues. Automating administrative processes such as billing, purchasing, etc lead to increased sales-marketing and R&D productivity, thereby reducing operating costs across the organization.
Emerging sciences such as genomics and proteomics increase the number of drug targets from the hundreds to tens of thousands, Internet applications will help to optimize large volumes of complex data and help better identify drug candidates. The question is no longer when the Internet or technology will impact the business of pharmaceuticals, but how the industry will adopt the technology to get the most out of the new global business environment. Today's new pharma companies need scalable networking solutions that will grow with the company, provide productivity for a mobile workforce, and meet pertinent security regulations.