How has Troikaa’s product offering evolved over time?
At Troikaa, we started with products that offered small volumes of business that big companies did not go after, but which were nonetheless essential and in demand. Our second successful product was an antidote to cyanide. Later we followed up with antidotes for mercury and other poisons. When the scope of antidotes was exhausted, the 90s opened another opportunity with the beginning of cardiac interventions, which required specific injections imported from either Europe or Australia, and which no Indian player had attempted to produce. We developed a range of five injectables used during and after cardiac surgery. From drugs for open-heart surgeries, we moved on to anesthetic agents. All these products, including antidotes were hospital centric and gave us a presence in high-profile hospitals across India. We were now ready to set up a sales team to build the prescription business for mainstream products in pain and gynaecology.
How would you describe the innovation climate for Indian manufacturers?
The reward of selling reverse engineered generics in India is very high. One can get the product license very easily. As yet, I would not say that the success of our NDDS has set a trend for other companies to follow. This is because many companies find it more rewarding to copy our NDDS products. The internal environment of the country in general and specifically the pharmaceutical industry does not encourage innovations and patents. We tend to see patents (innovations) as scary monopolies. It is generally looked at as profiteering. This myopic approach completely ignores the benefits that innovations provide to the society. However, this does not deter our innovative endeavors. We continue to innovate and we sell our innovations at affordable prices so that the maximum number of patients can take advantage of our innovation. Besides, in the international markets, our innovations help register the image of Indian pharma as an innovator. Of course, regulatory approvals of our innovations are a long drawn out process. To give an example of this process, Troikaa recently introduced the Nasal B12 to replace painful injectables. It is the world’s fast nasal drug delivery of vitamin B12. Despite the high need for the drug in India, it still took us seven years to have it approved, and now we are moving in the direction of getting it registered across the world including the EU.
Could you give us a sense of the current capacity and main markets of Troikaa?
Troikaa has three manufacturing plants producing all dosage forms, except for liquids: coated, sustained release, dual-phase release tablets, liquid and dry powder injectables, hard and soft gelatin capsules, nasal sprays, topical solutions and topical semi-solid products. Two of our plants are in Gujarat, and one in Uttarakhand.
East and West Africa, as well as Latin America and South East Asia are very profitable markets for us. Our recent foray into the CIS promises similar success in the years ahead. We export to 83 countries altogether. We have offices in Peru, Philippines, Vietnam and Kazakhstan. The next step is to register our difficult to manufacture anesthetic product basket in Europe. In parallel, we have also embarked on the process to get our pipeline of novel deliveries (Dynapar AQ injection & Dynapar QPS, the topical pain-relief solution) registered in the EU. .
How difficult is it for Indian companies to enter highly regulated markets?
Europe and the US are very different. In Europe the authorities weigh the benefit of the price vis-a-vis the quality, while the US FDA is highly focused on anticipated failures arising out of GMP lapses. As a results, prices of medicines go northwards. Of late, the reputation of Indian generics has taken a marginal hit in the US. However, I am sure this will improve for the better. The rewards offered by the two markets also vary tremendously. Profit margins of exports to the EU are modest, but those from exports to the US are higher.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, what are your expectations for the current financial year?
Domestic sales have taken a hit, decreasing by 15% in April and May, which were lockdown months, but thanks to our international footprint, we have been able to maintain our volumes. We believe our branded high-tech products have helped us create a strong recognition worldwide. While India remains our main focus, we will continue to launch products, initially in the less regulated markets where registrations are faster, and gradually bring our products to more complex markets.