Drug firms depend on fresh prescriptions for their new introductions, which are made available at medical stores near the clinics visited by MRS The lockdown has made supplying drugs to the right retail outlets a challenge. “Moreover, why would a chemist even stock a new brand when he knows fresh prescriptions will be rare,” said a senior official at a drug firm.
As a result, new launches have fallen sharply. From 278 new product launches in February, the number slipped to 123 in March, and drug makers said April would hardly see any new launches.
Pharma majors said the sales outlook for April is even grimmer. “For the anti-infective segment (antibiotics primarily), the sales in the first 15 days of April are down by 67 per cent compared to the first 15 days of March,” said the senior official of a Mumbai-based drug major.
“The industry expects the value growth this year to slow down to 1.5-3 per cent if the crisis continues. Apart from new launches and smaller brands getting hit, logistics challenges will also affect overall sales,” said CEO of a drug major on condition of anonymity.
In fact, webinars have become the order of the day, with the pharma sales force taken off the field. Mumbai-based JB Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, which owns marquee brands like Metrogyl and Rantac, launched a cardiac product in March through a webinar right before the lockdown began.