Could you introduce Concord Biotech to our global audience, highlighting its main milestones?
Concord Biotech is an R&D-based biotechnology company, distinguished as the only fermentation based-APIs producer in India, as well as the largest producer of immunosuppressive drugs in the world. Concord Biotech enjoys over 50% market share in the US and more than 55% in the world for its immunosuppressant products.
As a recent milestone, we are currently building the world's largest fermentation facility in Gujarat, covering around 600,000 m2 of land. The plant was due to open this June, but due to the coronavirus pandemic and the shortages of manpower, the inauguration has been pushed back to December. This extensive manufacturing unit will help Concord take a lead in market share not only in immunosuppressants but also antibiotics, antifungals and oncology drugs.
What are the characteristics of fermentation-based production?
Fermentation processes have two crucial barriers: infrastructure and technology. Both of these are costly and complex to put into place. In the facility currently under construction, Concord is investing 500 crores (approximately US$ 6.6 million). In India alone, we supply between 35% to 40% of all fermentation-based APIs. The main problem is that India is dependent on China, especially for its intermediates, and Concord has tried to ease this dependency by producing in-house.
How is the added capacity meeting demand expectation and what are the demand projections for future years?
At the moment, Concord runs at a capacity of 500 cubic meters, to which plan to add another 1,100 cubic meters, essentially tripling our capacity. For the next five years, this capacity will suffice. However, an important consideration will be how the government incentivizes manufacturers to work on critical molecules for which we are almost fully dependent on China- such as penicillin, tetracycline, cephalosporin and even Vitamin C. This dependency is a worldwide issue, not only Indian. The Indian government has already expressed its commitment to support domestic production. If this is successful, then our capacity would not only need to triple but increase by six or seven times to meet the very high demand. It is not an easy route, but it is something Indian producers are aware of and looking into.
What are the advantages of operating in Gujarat?
In terms of regulation, everywhere in India we have a strong framework, as well as the necessary knowledge, automation, SOPs and the means to comply with what is expected of us as manufacturers. When a mistake is made, this comes to surface very quickly and is contained immediately. In this regard, India is superior to China. When it comes to launching new products, our scientists are well cognizant of the patent law guidelines and how to file applications properly. Many Indian companies will race against international players when a patent expires.
More generally, Gujarat brings the advantages of government-friendly policies, adequate labor laws and the availability of manpower. Scientists and their families enjoy a good quality of life in modern cities like Ahmedabad and Vadodara, which are also great education hubs.
How is Concord Biotech attracting and retaining talent in a competitive pharma hub like Gujarat?
Concord has a vast team of more than 1,500 people. The strength of our company is the R&D department, whose many scientists have actually accompanied me for the past 30 years in growing the company. As a name with an established legacy in fermentations, we attract fresh talent and train them amongst the best. 120 people make up our R&D team, working on patent technologies and our own strains.
What do you identify as the main growth drivers in 2020-2021?
Concord Biotech’s main focus will be fermentations and biopharmaceuticals. Listing around 40 products in our basket, Concord is the only company in the world to make more than 15 fermentation products. About 65% of our products are exported to countries such as the US, Japan, and European countries, and we partner with countless companies both nationally and internationally. Any company which sells immunosuppressants will almost automatically be working with us. The new plant will be adding 36 new fermenters, which enable us to produce between 15-20 products at the same time, which is unique in the market. The diversity of products gives us great advantages, especially since these are high-value drugs.
Do you have any final thoughts?
Concord Biotech is known across the world and it is our pride to have very good relations with partners and customers globally. We are the first to come to mind when thinking about fermentations, and we will continue to maintain our position and deliver to the highest standards.