While the pharma market is an extremely lucrative and ever expanding market, the market for generic medicine yet faces hiccups. Generic medicines are significantly cheaper medicines with the same effects, composition and benefits. However branded medicines take up the market margins.
We spoke with Mr. Girish Agarwal – Co-founder of Zeno Health (formerly known as Generico) the fastest growing generic medicine focused retail chain with 85 outlets already operational in various localities across Mumbai. Zeno Health has served customers over 10,00,000 since its inception and is planning to expand its reach to markets like Pune and Surat
Growth of the generic medicine market
India is at prominent position and rapidly growing presence in global pharmaceuticals. It is the largest provider of generic medicines globally, occupying a 20% share in global supply by volume, and supplies over 50 per cent of global demand for various vaccines, 40% of generic demand in the US and 25% of all medicine in UK.
India is the source of 60,000 generic brands across 60 therapeutic categories and manufactures more than 500 different Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs). The export of generic drugs is one of India’s core strengths.
The rising incidence of chronic diseases is one of the major drivers of the generic medicine’s growth in pharmaceuticals market. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), over the next 10 years, the deaths due to chronic disease is projected to increase by 17%. As more individuals are diagnosed with chronic diseases, the treatment goes for a longer period of time and hence, the sales of generic drugs also increases.
As per the businessresearchcompany.com global generic pharmaceuticals market is expected to grow to $245.6 billion in 2021 at a CAGR of 5.1%, whereas it is expected to reach $331.54 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 7.8%. In 2020, almost 3-quarters of all deaths in the world is due to chronic diseases.
The most important growth factor for the generics market is the expiration of branded patents which obviously then allows for the marketing of a generic alternative.
Future of generic medicines
Purchase of medicines constitutes the single largest component of the total Out Of Pocket payments by households, which contribute to more than 66.6% of healthcare expenditure. Today, around 40% of Indians live on less than Rs. 72 per day and healthcare is one of the major areas of expense. According to WHO reports, nearly half of the world’s population is deprived of standard health coverage. More than 95 million are poverty-ridden for their medical bills and almost 800 million use most of their household budget on medicines, India being included in this list. As India is one of the highest per capita out-of-pocket expenditures’ country, such generics will save a lot of money which can be used for other health issues.
A number of high value drugs due to come off patent in the USA and Europe over the next few years include drugs to treat cancer that have come off patent in the USA and have attracted generic competition. Generic companies arealso beginning to take an interest in some of the older high value bio pharmaceuticals, including erythropoietin, filgrastim, recombinant insulin, somatropin and interferon. If regulatory hurdles can be overcome, the potential rewards for generic companies in bio similar products are huge. The new EMEA (European Medicines Agency) guidelines can be a step in the right direction. Generic companies are, however, beginning to look for higher profit margins and injectable drugs potentially has opportunities.
At Zeno Health We have a range of more than 30,000 Generic & Branded SKU’s (stock keeping units). To meet the rising demand Generic medicines we have set-up a 30,000 sq.ft. warehouse in Mumbai So, consumers coming to our store can have maximum access to generic medicine, which saves his medicine bill. Currently there are 1.5-2 lakh customers reaching out Zeno Health every month.
Steps the government is taking to encourage consumers to opt for generic medicines
‘Health for all’ has been a shout out of WHO and consistently works on improving health facilities across the globe. Our Government has been hinting constantly since a few years now that they might push for a law that prioritizes generic medicines over branded drugs in doctors’ prescriptions.
Looking at the diversity of the income level in India, Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana campaign launched by dept. of Pharmaceuticals in associations with Central Pharma Public Sector undertakings, to provide quality generic medicines at affordable prices to the masses through dedicated outlets called Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendra’s as compared to extensive branded expensive medicines to reduce out of pocket healthcare expenses.
The Medical Council of India (MCI) also stresses “on putting in place a legal framework to ensure that the doctors prescribe low-cost generic medicines to the patients”. In 2016, the MCI amended clause 1.5 of the Indian Medical Council (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Ethics) Regulations, 2002, mandates doctors to prescribe medicines by generic names. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government will make “legal arrangements” to ensure doctors prescribe generic medicines which means doctors write the composition of the medicine (the salt) and not a brand name.
The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has issued instructions to all State drug controllers to ensure that private retail chemist shops have separate shelves or racks to make generic medicines available. , the new Rule informs Drug Companies to Print Generic Salt Names in at least twice Bigger fonts, Bolder Fonts as compared to the Brand Name.
Looking at the diversity of the income level in India, Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya JanaushadhiPariyojana campaign launched by dept. of Pharmaceuticals in associations with Central Pharma Public Sector undertakings, to provide quality generic medicines at affordable prices to the masses through dedicated outlets called Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendra’s as compared to extensive branded expensive medicines to reduce out of pocket healthcare expenses.Zeno Health is Generic Focused organization and putting lots of effort to promote affordable generic medicines in Mumbai which is our first step towards making Healthcare Affordable, accessible to all.
Skepticism towards generic medicines
Despite being India’s is the world’s 10th-largest pharmaceutical market and the largest generic drug manufacturer and exporter globally, the awareness in India about generic medicines is meagre. In fact, the awareness is more in the form of misconceptions around generics.
In India a lot of misconception lies around generic medicine. Not a lot of people know what generic medicine is. People need to become aware that generic medicines are the patent for its brand-name, once the brand name expires and there is no association of brand or promotion of the brand involved with it.
Reason why consumers are hesitant to purchase generic medicines
The Indian consumer generally relates good quality goods to higher price value. It is especially true when it comes to medication also. Generic medicine is priced at lower rates thus causing skepticism and hesitance amongst consumers.
Also, the practice of prescribing medicines by brand names instead of drug names leads to low confidence at consumer’s end in switching to generic. This practice hits at the very root of the aim to make medical care affordable to all sections of the society.
Further the term ‘generic’ also bring doubts to the minds of the consumers. However, consumers must realize that the medicine has the same composition as branded medication and will have the same effects. The practice of prescribing medicines by brand names must stop and medication must be prescribed by the composition instead. This will largely help tackle hesitance amongst consumers.
Therefore, it is very necessary that the Indian consumer gets adequately educated about the “effectiveness and efficacy” of High-Quality affordable medicines.
What steps is Zeno Health taking to educate consumers about generic medicines?
Today, Zeno Health is a Leading Retail Pharmacy chain and it is 100% consumer centric, education driven, generics focused company. Our business model is quite different from the existing online and offline pharmacies. Zeno Health’s core value is to bring transparency through awareness & access.
Education is the key to create Generic Medicines awareness amongst customer at both Doctor level and at Pharmacy level. The Medical Council of India has already given instructions to prescribe generic medicines. At Zeno Health we make sure that the stores branding serves as a knowledge provider where price comparison between branded and Generic medicine is illustrated on selected wall. Every part of 85 stores talks about benefit around Generic Medicines, including our pharmacist who are trained to educate customers on medicines molecules/ contains& on available Generic medicines of the same contains.
At every level our motto is to offer access and fair opportunity to choose between generic and brand (post Doctor consultation only), in which our social media communication and App plays equal important role. Zeno Health App allows customer to experience available generic medicine of the same molecule while searching for prescribed medicine in different price range.