GSK India exec sees growth fueled by Novartis vaccine assets

GSK India's Managing Director Hasit Joshipura

GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) emerging-market vaccines sales have seen better days, thanks to a $489 million bribery probe that recently led to the indictment of the company's former China head. But according to a local exec, good times are ahead for Glaxo's vaccines unit in India--and the company's recent pickup of Novartis' non-flu vaccine assets will help it get there.

According to Hasit Joshipura, managing director of GSK India, Novartis' ($NVS) vaccine products, like anti-rabies shot Rabipur, will bolster the company's efforts to push further into India's Rs1,600-crore ($271 million) vaccine market. Pointing to the country's large birth rate and rising income levels, he tabbed it "probably the most exciting vaccine market in the world" in an interview with The Economic Times.

"Typically, as education and income increase, the obviously one thing Indians will do is spend on their children," he told the paper.

Of course, Glaxo had to give up a fair bit to pad its vaccine lineup, trading away its oncology business to the Swiss pharma giant as part of the multi-billion-dollar transaction. But as Joshipura pointed out, in India, a jab like Rabipur alone is worth Rs110 crore ($18.6 million), compared with an estimated Rs50 crore ($8.5 million) for the oncology business.

That doesn't mean India's vaccine landscape is an easy one for multinationals to navigate. As the ET notes, price cuts in the country have wiped out their fair share of top-line growth for drugmakers--Glaxo included--and clinical trial delays have prompted many countries to move their operations elsewhere.

But Glaxo--a tiered-pricing pioneer in emerging countries--has built a model specifically to suit India's needs, Joshipura said. "We moved manufacturing many years ago to India, then we have pricing which is India-specific. "We got lucky in the early period where we have products specific for India's disease profile," said Joshipura.

Glaxo won't necessarily count on that kind of luck in other developing countries, however; the company recently announced it would tailor a vaccine portfolio to suit health needs in Africa as part of a wider access initiative.

- see the Economic Times story

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