Monday, June 23, 2008


I got the above inspiring image from HERE.

Entrepreneurship is the major trend of our times in India, and the need of the hour too. Narayanmurthy, Chief Mentor, Infosys, an icon among entrepreneurs was asked recently on CNBC (Hindi) – what is better - capitalism or socialism? In his answer, he asked people to look beyond these ‘isms’ – his reflection was that entrepreneurship was the remedy to most of India’s socio-economic problems as entrepreneurship creates jobs and disposable income. This in turn helps drive a country’s economy, and helps solve socio-economic problems.

An interesting Pharma entrepreneur is MR. NITIN SHAH, from the land of entrepreneurs – GUJARAT. His company is UNISON PHARMACEUTICALS, VATVA, GUJARAT. Operating only in Gujarat, this small company has a sizeable turnover in Gujarat – about Rs. 20 crores to Rs. 24 crores per annum. However, what is creating a major sensation is that as per the market buzz, a special ORG IMS prescription survey was done in Gujarat recently, and the finding was most remarkable: Unison gets the largest number of prescriptions in Gujarat, and beats even Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK), traditionally GSK enjoys the highest no. of prescriptions in India.

There are some interesting insights from the way Unison operates. The basic feature of Mr. Nitin’s business model is that the pricing strategy is very pocket-friendly, and this encourages patient compliance, thereby winning the prescriber’s favor. For instance, Unison’s Nimesulide (I forget the brand name) is forty paise per tablet to the patient, their Amlodipine + Atenolol combination (a branded item) is seventy one paise per tablet only - to the patient, their calcium carbonate tablets (branded again) are just Rs. 1.50 per tablet to the patient, and this product has a retail offer of 30% too; doctors are happy to prescribe Unison’s products as they help generate value-for-money prescriptions, and this increases patients’ confidence and faith in the prescriber. Nowadays, patients are all too aware how prescribers favor brands in return for freebies or favors from companies. Hence, the erosion of trust between patient and prescriber is a very sensitive thing. Unison wins on this count.

Unison has a handsome sampling policy: each interested doctor gets a minimum sample pack of a month’s course of a product. Most of the products are sampled to the doctors. The gifts given out by Unison are not big ones – just the routine kind of stuff (like pens) that help build relationships with prescribers. The most amazing thing about Unison is that from places like Anand with population of just 1 to 1.5 lakh, the rupee yield is Rs. 4.0 lakhs to Rs. 5.0 lakhs per month per MR.

The really amazing stuff about Unison is yet to come

Mr. Nitin has appointed an old friend of his as the marketing co-ordinator. This gentleman transacts with the authorized stockists to obtain the primary orders, and receives the monthly stock and sales statements reflecting the secondary sales (from stockist to retailers). The MRs of Unison are instructed not to visit the stockists. They are advised to only meet the doctors and create the demand for the products. The secondary stock and sales statement information is available to the MR from the company. There are no sales targets for MRs - their job is only to promote aggressively! And the result is there for the Pharma industry to see!! Unison has the largest no. of prescriptions in Gujarat - more than even GSK!!!

Mr. Nitin is following a MR friendly man-management policy. He gives a good pay-packet, annual paid-vacation for the family, and good incentives too.

It does help that Mr. Nitin is a former successful MR himself. Now, just imagine the impact on healthcare in India, if you have a Unison type of company in every state of India!!

In fact, new resurgent India sees another phenomenon: many experienced MRs are getting on to the entrepreneurial bandwagon either through the propaganda-cum-distribution route or franchisee marketing route. As one MR said to me, today senior MRs are becoming directors directly. For instance, I met up with a MR of a small company, who was earning about Rs. 12,000 per month average. He then left the job and started franchisee marketing, and makes about Rs. 25,000 per month excluding Rs. 5000/-, which he spends on 'thanksgiving' gifts to prescribers.

Malvinder Singh is another ‘whos-who’ Pharma entrepreneur of India creating waves globally. It appears that one's approach to entrepreneurship or one's style of entrepreneurship is certainly influenced by genetics: Malvinder Singh’s decision to sell-off the promoter stake to Daiichi Sankyo is reminiscent of his grandfather’s (Bhai Mohan Singh), vice versa -decision to take-over Ranbaxy. As such, Ranbaxy was started by cousins Gurbax Singh and Ranjit Singh. Bhai Mohan Singh was the financier. Initially, Ranbaxy was a distributor for another Japanese company A Shionogi. (It is a curious coincidence to see the Jap connection again, where in Daiichi Sankyo is a Japanese company). When the cousins were in a financial bother, and unable to pay up their dues to Bhai Mohan Singh, the cousins suggested Bhai Mohan Singh may take control of the company in lieu of the dues. And Bhai Mohan Singh sensing a financial kill took over the company reins. Rest as they say is history. Bhai Mohan Singh’s illustrious son Dr. Parvinder Singh along with his committed team, took the company to great heights. Bhai Mohan Singh’s investment flowered even better. It appears Bhai Mohan Singh had great financial acumen, as can be evidenced from the fact, that Shri Bhai Mohan Singh was interested in even manufacturing and marketing consumer health care products like the toothpaste (considering that the national toothpaste market is Rs. 2500 crores per annum turnover market with Colgate having about half the market share, it would have been a good investment for Ranbaxy to enter in this domain too at that time). However, Dr. Parvinder Singh’s vision was clear, and that was to be focused on the pharmaceutical domain. Here we see two styles of entrepreneurship – while Bhai Mohan Singh’s style was focused on financials, Dr. Parvinder Singh, his son, was a technocrat – visionary. Malvinder Singh’s decision seems to be genetically inspired (!). Malvinder Singh has sensed a financial kill to reap a harvest (Rs. 10,000 crores is very big money), that may be inspired by his grandfather’s legacy; and Malvinder Singh through the decision to sell the promoter stake, has also ensured that Ranbaxy now scales even greater heights, and this may be inspired by his father’s legacy. The marriage between Daiichi Sankyo and Ranbaxy is a best-of-the-two-worlds match: generics plus innovator products.

All in all we observe two very interesting entrepreneurial stories above. Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down, click on OLDER POSTS, when required to read all other posts. Thanks. This blogpost is put up at 7.45 pm on 23.6.2008, from the friendly neighborhood cyber centre.

No comments: