Mankind preparing for a makeover and US entry
At the age of 22, Arjun Juneja had to make a big decision - whether to choose cricket as a career or be part of India's fastest growing pharma company, promoted by his father. Juneja, who bowled leg spin and played at the state level in Haryana, picked the second option.
"After my graduation, I had to take the call to be part of the business empire that was in front of me or cricket. And, as individuals deep down you have this gut feeling do it or leave it, so I decided to quit cricket," said Juneja, now director-operations at Mankind Pharma. Juneja, 29, is now helping herald a course change that will be as significant for the company's future as the one he made for himself seven years ago. It is making an image makeover and preparing to enter the US market with an aggressive pricing plan. The aim is to break into the big league of India's generic firms.
Mankind has created a reputation for itself as being the one stop shop for all things sex. Of the Rs 3,500 crore pharma sales of the company, over-the-counter products such as condoms, erectile dysfunction drugs and contraceptive pills contribute just 10%, but still manage to gather maximum eye balls. Now, with next generation members like Juneja in charge of key operations, Mankind is set to take a leap.
This decision comes at a time when the company's domestic sales have peaked out from what it was five years ago. Today the company is growing at a rate of 16-18% against 20-25% over half a decade ago as other generic makers, and the government's free generic-medicine scheme, have eaten into overall market share. It is known as the poor person's drug company and is still talked about for its contraceptive products and not pharma portfolio.
"Mankind has never been part of regulated markets (primarily the US), so that might be a reason why we might not be considered a serious pharma player. So, to change that perception, we will need five years once we seriously get into the US. And the strategy which we will have for the US will be completely different than other Indian companies," said Juneja.
The team for the US market will be in place by the end of this year, and filings should start a year after that. If all goes well, Mankind will be ready to hit the US markets by 2018.
The strategy, Juneja said, will be similar to its India game plan: aggressive pricing with a bottom down approach.
"We believe that whatever market you go, either you rip it apart or you don't go; that's how we have been successful," he said.
Mankind might stick to the plain vanilla generic products initially, however going forward he said the focus would be to look at generic products with complex manufacturing process that has limited competition. To start that process, Mankind next year will be launching a generic version of Duphaston used in hormonal replacement therapy.
"We think Duphaston is going to be a success story for not only Mankind, but for the entire Indian pharma industry because we have managed to crack the complexity of making this drug," Juneja said.