Pharma sales grow in double digits in March but Covid-19 overhang continues


Sales of medicines grew by 10.3% year-on-year in March, the strongest growth seen during the pandemic started, but this was largely on account of the plunge in sales in the corresponding period last year due to the covid-19 related lockdown in India, pharmaceutical market research firm AIOCD-AWACS said.

“Lockdown announcement in March 2020 that led to relatively higher growth for Cardio-Diabetes segment in March ‘20 and dip in other therapy areas shows normalization in monthly data for March ’21,” the market research firm said.

Pharmaceutical sales for financial year 2020-21 was 1.47 trillion, up 2.1%, the data showed.

While cardiac care and anti-diabetes drugs had a 6.3% and 0.3% growth in sales respectively, most other segments, barring respiratory drugs, vaccines and anti-malarial drugs, grew 8.5-30.3%, primarily due to the low base from the drop in sales in March last year.

Anti-malarial drugs slumped 22% in March on account of high sales of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine last year, which was seeing robust sales due to its initial repurposing for treatment of covid-19.

While the drug showed promise against the novel disease initially, later studies showed the drug instead increased the risk of heart attack for patients while providing no significant benefit against covid-19.

Among corporates, all top 20 pharmaceutical companies posted sales growth of 1-33% in March. Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, the largest seller of favipiravir in India, recorded a 23% yoy growth in sales largely on account of robust sales of the covid-19 drug as well as the low base last year.

For 2020-21, sales of Glenmark were up 15% due to sales from favipiravir, making it the fastest growing company among top 20 drugmakers, with Ipca Laboratories, the world’s largest manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine, also seeing 11% growth in sales, the only other drugmaker to see double digit increase.

The pharmaceutical market as not yet recovered from the covid-19 pandemic, with most acute segments still struggling, All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists general secretary Rajiv Singhal said.

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