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Novel concepts from drug delivery to tech adoption propel Indian pharma in Covid times

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Tuesday, September 14, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Novel concepts in the research and manufacture of new drugs and delivery devices are seen to be getting an impetus as the me-too medicine market is now wrought with margin pressure, said Sunil S Chiplunkar, vice president, business development, Group Pharmaceuticals.

Technology advancements brought in digestible sensors which are tiny pills or gadgets to track digestion and the absorption of drugs in the body. There was a big boost to in-silico testing, he added.

While the industry’s future outlook is positive, there are challenges in supply chain distribution. The Covid-19 pandemic has altered the dynamics of the industry with anti-infective and antibiotics taking the centre stage to fight the deadly virus, he said.

Noting that the market trend in 2021 was research and manufacture of drugs to control and treat the coronavirus disease, he said favipiravir or the FabiFlu brand from Glenmark catapulted to capture the number one slot in the domestic pharma market in April from the 169th spot in February. With sales of Rs. 352 crore in April, this brand alone accounted for over 2 per cent of the total domestic pharma market sales of Rs. 15,662 crore. The huge jump in FabiFlu sales happened owing to a surge in Covid cases between February and May where FabiFlu dislodged an anti-diabetic brand Glycomet, which was at rank 2 in both February and March Chiplunkar, stated at a recent event.  

Representing Group Pharma, a leading dental formulation company, he said, in the early days of the pandemic, consumers thronged the markets not just for hand sanitisers but oral care solutions too witnessed a higher demand as consumers did not want to compromise in any way as the mouth is the since mouth is the gateway to health, he said.

Pharma industry like any other sector took the technology pathway to propel speed to market. Digitalization enabled companies to accelerate sales led via digital marketing modes. Precision medicine, which is pharmacogenomics + personalized medicines, rDNA products and biologicals including vaccines, are also notable innovations.

Further technology created health apps, devices or services that could be prescribed by a doctor or bundled with a drug. Use of virtual reality (VR ) and augmented reality ( AR) assisted in surgery planning and patient treatment to provide an insight into the complex medical interventions. This came along with artificial intelligence (AI) assisted healthcare and 3D printing of drugs where Aprecia Pharmaceuticals' brand Spritam or Levetiracetam tablets became the first FDA approved prescription drug product manufactured using 3D printing technology.

Technology adoption accelerated at the very onset of Covid-19 spread in March 2020 where e-consultation or telehealth, patient engagement, increased. The use of real-world evidence (RWE) allowed faster healthcare regulatory decisions, besides adverse drug monitoring for post marketing surveillance of new drug launches, said Chiplunkar.

There was also an increased attention to quality standards with automation providing much needed assurance on proof of integrity supported with agile manufacturing, modular production and paperless operations. For human resources, the focus was on communication skills, reasoning, participation as teams and being digitally savvy, summed up Chiplunkar.


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Mayur Dalwadi Sep 15, 2021 5:12 PM
Very interesting & informative novel concepts from drug delivery.
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