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Nicholas Piramal quits pharma alliance

P.T. Jyothi Datta

New Delhi , Nov. 12

FIRST it was Cipla and now it's the turn of Nicholas Piramal India Ltd (NIPL) to opt out of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), a platform that was the brainchild of Ranbaxy promoter the late Parvinder Singh.

The development comes even as the four-year-old IPA acquired a new set of office-bearers.

Early this week, IPA saw Mr H.F. Khorakiwala, Chairman of Wockhardt Group and Vice-President, IPA, succeed Dr K. Anji Reddy of Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd (DRL) as President of the IPA. Mr Dilip S. Shanghvi, Chairman & Managing Director of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, will be the new Vice-President, an IPA communiqué said.

But what the note did not say is that NPIL had opted out of the pharma platform. The IPA Secretary-General, Mr D.G. Shah, confirmed the recent exit of NPIL. However, he was unwilling to comment on the development.

Meanwhile, other members of IPA told Business Line that it was "professional differences" that lead to Cipla's exit last year and NPIL's this year. Some IPA members observed that NPIL's exit was in the offing, with company top brass not seeing eye-to-eye with other members on issues related to data exclusivity and compulsory licensing. Further, they point out that NPIL and DRL were engaged in a spat over DRL's biotech cancer drug — a matter that had landed up at the Drug Controller General of India's doorstep to be resolved.

"This had its ramifications on the IPA, since NPIL was a member and Dr Anji Reddy was the then president. It could have been one of the reasons why NPIL decided not to renew its membership. Last time around too, Cipla had walked out due to differences on issues related to the patent-regime and drug pricing. IPA is an industry group that interacts with Government to help formalise the final policy. Companies that don't agree with the IPA's consensus prefer to discuss their individual stand-points with the Government," point out IPA insiders.

The IPA, initially formed by eight national companies in November 1999, now has 10 companies in its fold. They are Alembic, Sun Pharmaceuticals, Cadila Healthcare, Torrent Pharmaceuticals, DRL, Unichem Laboratories, Lupin Laboratories, USV Ltd, Ranbaxy Laboratories and Wockhardt.

According to IPA's Mr Shah, these companies have a cumulative research and development (R&D) spend of over Rs 500 crore in the year ended March 2003, besides accounting for 90 per cent of the total private sector spending in pharmaceutical R&D.

Further, he points out that the exports of these national drug companies are an estimated Rs 4,500 crore, more than one-third of the country's exports of drugs and pharmaceuticals. Besides, they service over 30 per cent of the domestic market.

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