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Pharma industry is comparatively insulated from slowdown, says Atish Majumdar of Lupin

The pharma industry may be witnessing stagnant growth and pricing pressure but the economic slowdown won’t affect it much, Majumdar, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Lupin, tells BestMediaInfo. He says the industry will soon grow in double digits

Atish Majumdar

The slowdown in the Indian economy certainly does not bring good news for the pharma industry that was not long ago struggling with customer consolidation, hyper-competition and pricing pressure from the US. But it can take heart from the fact that buying medicine really isn’t a choice like buying a car as healthcare is an industry that has the potential to grow even in recession.

“Slowdown in the economy will always have an impact on every industry but we are relatively better off compared to other industries. The disposable income comes down due to which people tend to delay checkups as much as they possibly can. But being in healthcare, we are a bit insulated as compared to others. It is an industry that grows steadily even in recession and it will grow,” said Atish Majumdar, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Lupin.

In an interaction with BestMediaInfo.com, Majumdar discussed how the pharma industry, which is growing at 10%, will grow at double digits. He explained how for Lupin, advertising or marketing is a means to stay in touch with patients and doctors via digital.

“The maximum progress happening in the world today is in medical science. Simply because the diseases we see today are more population-based, rather than any incident or due to changes in external environment. So this market of pharmaceuticals is definitely going to grow. It is currently growing around 10%, but you should see good double-digit growth in the future,” Majumdar said.

Lupin has a 3.56% market share, which makes it number six. Most of its revenues come from outside the country, mostly from the US. It sees a greater long-term opportunity from the Indian market which is its second biggest market, and has outgrown the market in the last three years.

Being customer-centric and with great focus on quality, the brand recently tied up with multiple companies that have innovative products, including Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis and Vifor.

In India, direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs is not authorised, so how is Lupin steady in its customer-centric approach? Is delivering quality drugs enough or is there a need for a certain kind of communication from pharma brands to actually make consumers aware of the usages?

“In the pharma space, across the world and in India, there are two big factors driving communication. One is the evidence of science and the second is driven by regulations. How much transparency you bring into your communication around medicine is important. So any company that brings that to the forefront has very effective communication,” he said.

The brand’s website, its two social media handles and a blog series with PharmEasy makes communication easy. With the recent launch of a chatbot named as Anya, the brand is trying to develop a two-way communication with patients and customers by creating small videos.

“Our digital spends would be around 10 to 15%, which we see growing because addressing a defined customer set is the need of today. We understand the need to be relevant and consistent. We are changing and moving into the digital space. It's not about budgets, it's about a belief that you can reach your doctors and customers and tell them everything within the regulatory framework,” he said.

Emphasising the importance of being ethical about what goes out from the brand’s end, he said whatever is for the public domain goes through multiple screening processes run by doctors to make sure the content credible and authentic.

With the advent of technology in the space of communication and medicine, Majumdar said big data, Internet of Things, AI and ML are very important as they connect with pharma and are going to be critical for the brand and the industry overall. “With these tools, our communication will be much more incisive, customised and the pace with which we connect with patients and doctors will go up manifold. This brings agility to an organisation,” he said.

While the brand is very much active in the telemedicine space, it provides free assistance programmes to patients. Majumdar said such outreach programmes through telemedicine, online platforms and content marketing tools help brands connect with patients.

Having one of the best distribution systems among stockists and retailers, the brand has never been associated with any e-retailer but plans to do so in the future.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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