Times are exciting in Indian Pharma sector

The drumbeat of negative news around the US Pharma continues unabated. The latest piece of bad news that Merck is laying off 15% of employees, comes on the heals of Pfizer announcement laying off ~20,000 employees after the Wyeth merger. According to a report published by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, in the first half of this year alone drug makers announced that they planned to cut about 35,000 jobs. Bad news like this is enough to strike fear in the hearts of the most courageous pharma executives!

Except, perhaps if you are in the Indian pharma industry.

While the US pharma industry is buffeted by one bad news after the other, times seem to be downright giddy in India. In fact, all this bad news here in the US seems to be translating into significant opportunity for the Indian pharma industry. An article in NY Times seems to indicate that the Indian pharmaceutical industry will grow 13% this year, reminding me of excitement I felt in late eighties when the US pharma sector was growing dramatically on the shoulders of new scientific discoveries in both BIG pharma and the nascent biotechnology industry. India today seems to be poised for significant growth leveraging its low costs high value scientific talent into a strategic advantage aimed towards making the pharma sector the center piece of the future global pharma industry.

A report published by the Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India seems to confirm these ambitions.
In drug discovery and development services, India is emerging as a hot spot, growing at ~ 65%, i.e. more than three and half times the global growth rate driven by strong chemistry capabilities, skilled manpower and cost value proposition.
This new maturity of Indian drug industry has already generated significant excitement in the sector with multi-nationals increasingly coming to India to buy into the low cost development capabilities exemplified by the Sanofi Aventis acquisition of Shanta Biotech and the low cost manufacturing capabilities demonstrated by the the $3.7B acquisition of Piramal Healthcare by Abbott. In fact, the Piramal acquisition goes beyond the low cost manufacturing capability acquisition strategy; it acts as a strategic foothold in a market place that is about to enter the explosive growth phase. Not only does this acquisition make Abbott the largest pharmaceutical company in India today, it also creates unparalleled growth opportunity for the future; Abbott expects to grow its business to $2.5B by year 2020, putting India at the centerpiece of Abbott's growth strategy.

So what does it mean for the Pharma hands of the United States? Two things...

1) If you are young and are looking for an adventure, it might be worth exploring opportunities in India. If the computer software industry is any guide, this sort of growth in Pharma industry is going to create significant opportunities for the adventurous. Not only will there be great opportunities to develop skills and learn business, professionally it might be an opportunity to grow at a much faster rate than here in the US. After all, high growth companies creates great many opportunities for promotions compared to low growth rate companies - just ask the Googlers and Pfizer employees!

2) Second, for the experienced and talented hands who have developed their skills in the US, there will be unprecedented opportunities for you too. Explosive growth has to be managed or else it can become destructive like the flooding of the river caused by torrential rain. Seasoned and mature hands are needed to man the controls and guide the industry through its early growth years creating opportunity for top level and mid level management. So, if you are looking at a stagnant career in the US and potentially a "sword of damocles" hanging over your job, India might just give you the opportunity for a second career before you are ready to hang up your spurs.

Of course it is important to remember that India is not the US and working in India is not like working in the US. Inefficiencies abound and challenges present themselves at every corner. If you are faint of heart who shrivels at the first sign of bureaucratic hurdles of a developing country, the India opportunity may not be for you. But if you are the adventurous type, looking for a new challenge, India presents an unprecedented opportunity to get involved at the "ground floor" and contribute into building some thing more substantial than just pushing the next visual aid past the scrunched up eyes of the internal review team scrutinizing your promotional piece to ensure that you don't miss the apostrophe in the fine print at the bottom of the page.
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