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GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (GSK): Harvesting the “Pharm”(a) With its Two-Pronged Sickle

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By Pradyut Hande:

The Indian Pharmaceutical industry is presently witnessing a period of steady holistic growth as companies are looking to shore up their businesses to cater to an increasingly health conscious domestic and international market and maintain reasonable profit margins. The highly fragmented Indian Pharma industry has grown from strength to strength, logging healthy growth rates year-on-year over the past decade. It is now the third larges pharma industry in the world in terms of volume and fourteenth in terms of value. India’s domestic pharmaceutical market is valued approximately at US $ 12 billion in 2010, and has shown a strong growth of 21.3% for the 12 months ending September 2010, as per consulting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).

It estimates that over the next 10 years, the domestic market will grow to US $ 49 billion, at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 per cent. Presently growing at a more than respectable rate of 12%, the industry is touted to further scale the growth rate charts propelled by enhanced demand.

In their quest to achieve greater market share and capitalization whilst maintaining an international foothold, MNC pharma firms are looking to step up their Indian operations to tap into the existing latent demand. In light of Abbott Laboratories’ Rs. 17000 Crore acquisition of Piramal Healthcare’s domestic formulations business, pharma firms have realized the need to adopt and embrace a more proactive approach in order to safeguard and further their business interests with regards to the Indian market. Abbott’s recent big money acquisition of Piramal Healthcare’s assets has catapulted them to the Numero Uno position in terms of sales in India. The other major players in the mix that have been pushed down the pecking order courtesy Abbott’s ascendancy to the top include; Cipla, Ranbaxy and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (GSK) at positions two, three and four respectively. Other global players attempting to gather a greater foothold in the market include the likes of Pfizer, Sanofi Aventis and Novartis among others.

Set in this background of hyper-competition, GlaxoSmithKline having taken cognizance of the prevalent market realities is embarking on a twin-pronged strategy of acquisitions and differentiated product launches to consolidate its position in India. Hence, by adopting a calibrated amalgamation of organic and inorganic growth plans, GSK hopes to make up lost ground on its competitors. Market penetration is still very low and the increasing accessibility in a heterogeneous market environment offers GSK ample opportunity to further cement its position.

As per company sources, compared to their CAGR of 7.5-8.0% between the period of 2002-07; GSK has been growing at over 10%. The merits ensuing from well-thought out acquisitions stand a firm in good stead considering the fact that pure organic growth in India takes greater time owing to its highly fragmented market dynamics. Consequently, acquisitions assume even greater significance and aid a firm’s rise up the ladder; as is evident from the fortunes of Abbott. However, firms ought to keep in mind the fact that acquisitions ought to make strict financial sense and form a strategic fit over a protracted period of time. As far as GSK is concerned, plausible targets include established or emerging names in vital segments such as antibiotics, cardiovascular and central nervous system (CNS) related ailments and metabolic disorders. What deserves attention at this juncture of time is the fact that valuations have increased manifold after the Abbott-Piramal Healthcare deal that attaches a veritable degree of risk with regards to acquisition propositions. Firms ought to tread with the greatest of care on the “acquisition tightrope”, adopting a balanced approach infused with keen business sense and long term vision. The risks maybe higher but the rewards that accrue when the risks come to fruition are even higher.

Apart from their inorganic growth plans, GSK is all set to launch a brand new range of products including patented drugs and branded generics. They are on the cusp of launching branded generic products in select segments that include antibiotics and cardiovascular ailments. GSK is also looking to expand their presence in the Skincare segment by bringing products from Stiefel Laboratories to the Indian market. Based in the USA, Steiefel was purchased by GSK in 2009. The launch of Synflorix, their pneumoccocal vaccine and two other cancer drugs remain in the pipeline and ought to further their cause; depending on their prospective success per se. This twin-pronged strategy looks good on paper but only time will tell whether GSK is able to capitalize on its success thus far and move towards a more profitable future.

Opportunities abound aplenty… it is the ability to hone down and capture the most promising ones that differentiate the dominant players from the also-rans.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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