Eli Lilly and Company is among the major players in the Indian insulin market. Having started Indian operations way back in 1993, the company has seen consistent growth over the period of time. Utilizing effective marketing strategy, Eli Lilly India has witnessed continous expansion of its business operations resulting into increased market share. In an exclusive conversation with the BioVoice, Mr Edgard Olaizola, Managing Director, Eli Lilly India shared insights on the company’s operations in the country besides views on various healthcare related issues. Read the excerpts below:
How have been your experiences while working in India so far?
The experiences have been good. Personally, I am very happy (smiles). Great to see progress on our key reach out projects. The Lilly NCD Partnership has continuously shown positive outcomes. The Project Uday has been another project of importance. The data on diabetes among rural population as well as urban is available. Some of the interventions have been already tested to check whether things are working. We will be sharing the same with the concerned authorities in the government as well.
Have the changes been implemented in places where it matters?
We don’t implement ourselves. The idea is to do research and present the report. We developed best practices which were taken into consideration by authorities. Besides we have also seen that whatever we developed got eventually implemented. Similarly, under Project Uday, we made educational training manual and the government seemed interested. We saw the interventions and the implementation on the larger scale. The people, government and industry will be part of the results. Putting aggregate of all the efforts is difficult at this moment.
For Uday project, we will share the data on intervention. We expect to see the results in next two years. It is relatively easer as it is our own project. At NCD Summit, we have gathered some data and you will see the 15 percent of overall work so far. We are tracking the progress and in next two years, we will be able to aggregate most of data and put some tangible results in public domain.
There are many elusive challenges for NCDs in India. How do you look at that?
While the challenges remain, there is good progress on education and prevention of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. These efforts matter too as it is not always money that should be a priority on any organization’s list. We believe awareness about diets and lifestyle changes can help too. Government and lot of NGOs too are doing their bid in this direction.
“Presence of lot of undiagnosed people is a major issue that requires attention. So the challenge is to identify such population and prevent NCDs. To diagnose, we require more equipment in public health sector.”
What are the challenges that have been faced by the NCD Lilly Partnership while reaching out to marginal population??
First thing was to get the attention towards non-communication diseases. But now it is well recognized fact that it is an important area to be addressed. That has happened as everybody is investing in this area.
Presence of lot of undiagnosed people is a major issue that requires attention. So, the challenge is to identify such population and prevent NCDs. To diagnose, we require more equipment in public health sector. There are some basic things at fundamental level that can make difference. Of course, it is complimented by the rise of options for treatment. New portfolios are coming up. We have invested in the maternal and child health curriculum too.
India is being called the diabetes capital of the world. How are you boosting your portfolio to match the requirement?
That is what we are doing as Insulin is our forte. We plan to strengthen our diabetes product portfolio till 2018. Besides injections for diabetes patients, we provide education for would be patients. Therefore, information from our side is not always product related but awareness is our priority too. It is making a big difference already. Our educator program through its comprehensive and sustainable approach provides counseling on diabetes, nutrition and lifestyle management. We also teach appropriate ways to use Lilly injectable devices prescribed by treating physician.
Apart from being the leader in Insulin market, are you planning to expand your horizons in India?
If you look at our global portfolio, we have products across the table. Apart from Insulin, we could launch 20 new products globally. Most of them would be landing in India. We have products in diabetes and oncology. We will be launching products in our segments such as gastric cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis etc. These are some core areas where product pipeline is in the phase I and II. For India, we have global products.
How do you view at the medical delivery alternatives such as e-pharmacy and online medicine?
In case of diabetes, one must consult doctor for proper diagnosis and the self-medication is not a good idea. However, there are enough opportunities for such kind of online platforms to flourish as well. The market has got huge potential for various new offerings but these have to fit in as per requirements.
How have been the immediate activities in Indian context? Any new partnerships in offing?
We are doing clinical trials in India and expect to launch two new products in next two years. We already have partnerships with Lupin and Glen Pharma. We are always open to expand them whenever we find the right partner and opportunity. We will continue to scale up investments in NCDs in next 5-6 years.
How have been regulatory climate in India? Do you see the improvements happening?
Pharma products take years and thus need for transparency is an understood fact. There has been good progress in regulations in India and it is important that we be part of negotiations. We must be involved in conversation with other stakeholders. For us it is more about collaboration and we have a cordial relationship with authorities. Infact, we appreciate that ministers are receptive to the ideas.
What kind of CSR activities have been happening at Eli Lilly?
The multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) has been a major cause of worry. Our fight against the disease continues through the Lilly NCD Partnership.
At local level, we have partnered with an NGO for helping under-privileged children near Lilly office. We financially support their education and volunteer to do service to help them. It is close to our hearts. We are a part of global volunteer day when we go out and participate. We have ‘Connecting Hearts’ program where we send volunteers from India to other countries and people from Brazil, US come over here. This helps in exchange of thoughts and leads to understanding perspectives on healthcare. We have multiple evangelists on CSR front. Our mission is to improve global health.
“We continue to see ourselves as diabetes leader. At that same time, we are ready to take important plunge into other key areas. We have good oncology portfolio and we also plan to launch three more products in next two or three years in India.”
There has been a lot of talk about ‘Make in India’. Is Eli Lilly eager to participate?
We have been already manufacturing two of our formulations at Indian locations. One of the partnerships is with Glen Pharma. One is the vial production which is the largest segment in Insulin market. We are always open to partnerships. It is always a dynamic market and great opportunities exist.
How has been the diabetes market performing in India? How has been your revenue performance?
Diabetes market is growing double digit. While we can’t reveal specific figures related to Indian market but like market too, we grew double digit. Infact, I can say that the growth was faster than market.
What are your innovation plans in wake of dry drug pipelines everywhere?
We believe in innovation. More than 40 percent of our revenue goes into R&D to put up strong pipleline. We plan to accelerate products and launch 20 medications in next 10 years. Not many companies can say anything like this.
How do you look at Asia Pacific market? Any plans to increase base in other countries as well?
We are a global company. We have footprint everywhere. China, Japan has good opportunity in terms of growth. We will be open for any opportunity relevant to us anywhere including India or overall APAC market.
Where do you see the company after five years?
We continue to see ourselves as diabetes leader. At that same time, we are ready to take important plunge into other key areas. We have good oncology portfolio and we also plan to launch three more products in next two or three years in India. We therefore see oncology as another big priority sector. New areas where we plan to concentrate in a big way are Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriasis. There are products in pipeline and we expect to grow good.