“We aim to bring newer drug innovations to the Indian market”

Mentioned Luca Visini, Managing Director, Eli Lilly & Company India in an exclusive interaction with BioVoice where he outlined the goals of his company driven by innovation including pursual of new drug development and working towards medicines reaching people at large through different channels

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In an exclusive interview with BioVoice, Mr Luca Visini, Managing Director, Eli Lilly India shared his views on the host of issues ranging from the company’s latest activities in India, regulatory scenario, the future strategy and much more. Mr Visini outlined the goals of his company driven by innovation including pursual of new drug development and working towards medicines reaching people at large through different channels


 How has been your stint at Eli Lilly India office so far? Please share with us a few unique experiences.

I joined Lilly India in 2018 which was a landmark year for us as we celebrated our 25th anniversary in the country. The same year was extremely significant for Lilly India – we launched 3 new medicines in the market, entered the autoimmune segment through an oral medicine to treat rheumatoid arthritis and announced a strategic partnership with Cipla for marketing and distribution for diabetes medicine.

In the last 2 years, it has been my vision to build on Lilly’s legacy to make life better for patients living with chronic diseases in India such as cancer, diabetes and autoimmune diseases, through making Lilly’s innovative portfolio available to the right patients at the right time.

One of Lilly’s key imperatives is people strategy and fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion.  I am happy to share with you that Lilly India has been recognized for our work from reputed organizations such as Great Place to Work Institute, OPPI (Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India) and Business World.

With a population of over 1.3 billion inhabitants, India represents an unusual and particularly humbling setting to operate in for any newcomer to the country. It is strategically poised as a very important geography for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry. I can hardly think of another country where I would like to be at this moment. From a personal standpoint, India allows you to experience a fast pace of development and cultural diversity at all levels (social, economic, cultural, geographical) and this is absolutely unique in the world.

Please take us through the key developments including new product launches at Eli Lilly India during the last two years?

Lilly India has been investing in the quality of its human resources alongside expanding its portfolio of innovative medicines to address national healthcare needs and priorities. Over the years, we have introduced various new innovative therapies, mostly for non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis.

Lilly India launched three new medicines in the last 2 years. We entered the auto-immune segment in India by introducing an oral treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, through partnership agreements with partners, we increased the reach and presence of our once-weekly GLP-1 receptor agonists for type 2 diabetes along with introducing a long-acting basal insulin.

All these medicines have been received very positively by patients and healthcare practitioners and we are optimistic about our future.

In the era of competition, what was the objective behind forming a marketing alliance with Cipla, an Indian pharma company? Has this partnership met the set expectations?

 At Lilly, our business strategy is driven by focus, reach and execution. We have a strong portfolio of innovative medicines in India and our vision is to contribute to making life better for patients across the country by expanding reach of our medicines – to healthcare practitioners and to patients. The strategic alliance with a partner of high capabilities like Cipla leverages Lilly’s commitment to bring innovations to people suffering from diabetes in India and Cipla’s strong on-ground footprint across the country.

We have also collaborated with Lupin in the past to widen the access to our innovative diabetes medicines in India.

How has been the financial performance of the company during the last fiscal year? What are your expectations from the current FY?

I am happy to share with you that Lilly India is growing every year and we are excited that we have the opportunity to serve unmet needs in the market through our medicines.

We are an innovation-driven company and have a robust new product pipeline. We continue to invest in our India business and deliver life-saving breakthrough medicines and solutions to address the country’s specific health needs and fill gaps that might currently exist. We are optimistic about our growth prospects in India.

How do you view the pharma market potential in the country? Any untapped opportunities being looked at by the company?

The Indian Pharmaceutical sector grew at its fastest pace in the last quarter of 2019 in more than a year. Having said that, the pharmaceutical industry still has many important needs to fulfill.

India is a vast nation and must cater to the complex and unmet healthcare needs of 1.3 billion people. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies have an important role in developing and providing access to the right drugs to meet the multiple healthcare needs of the country.

There is a focus on filling gaps in healthcare which is evident from the current policies and programmes. However, there still are many untapped opportunities in India. Lilly is working on a strong R&D pipeline globally and we aim to bring the newer innovations to the Indian market based on the market needs.

Are there any challenges, regulatory or otherwise before the Indian pharma/ healthcare industry?

Predictability in the healthcare system would be a huge boon for the pharmaceutical industry. Predictability is going to be essential when it comes to IP protection and even more importantly, enforcement of the IP laws. We will also benefit from crisp and clear regulatory process with well-defined timelines and a transparent framework that protects market-based pricing caps on medicines. The Indian healthcare environment will benefit as a whole through a supportive pricing system that encourages introducing innovation to the country.

Currently, industry players are concerned about accessibility, affordability and pricing decisions. We advocate adopting a more robust patent regime. The policymakers and pharmaceutical industry need to work together to address the issues of pricing and patents.

The private sector can support the country’s healthcare vision by bringing in its expertise, resources, focused strategies and innovation. In the past, Lilly has worked with the stakeholders in the space of MDR –TB and NCDs and supports PPPs that are aligned with its expertise and help address the healthcare needs in India.

What would be your key priorities for Eli Lilly during the next few years?

At Lilly, our mission is to bring innovation and new therapies to make life better for patients who need them in India. We have actively pursued this mission for over 25 years in India and we are determined to continue doing so.

We aim to continue to provide access to all our new breakthrough products that can bring down the burden of NCDs (non-communicable diseases) in India. We will continue to invest in our India business and continue to deliver life-saving breakthrough medicines and solutions to address the country’s specific health needs and fill gaps that might currently exist.

We have outlined key priorities for Lilly India moving forward:

Our foremost priority is to maintain the integrity of our organization, by promoting a culture of honestly in the way we work, both internally and externally with our partners and stakeholders in the industry.

Secondly, our focus is to grow our organization with talented and engaged individuals who reflect the values of our corporation in everything they do, give back to their communities, and act as the best ambassadors to attract new talent and promote Lilly as a top employer in India.

Thirdly, we are keen on collaborating with all local stakeholders in the public and private sectors to understand how we could serve them better, as we plan to bring to market an unprecedented number of new therapies that address unmet needs. Through meaningful partnerships we can contribute to an inclusive, transparent and predictable healthcare system to benefit patients. We see merit in industry dialogue which can help improve predictability in healthcare industry – be it on Intellectual property, launching new drugs, pricing policies or uniform regulatory practices.

Lastly, we want to be the first is to achieve excellence in new product launches. We are an innovation driven company which pursues new drug development and works towards medicines reaching people at large through different channels.