The Q4 numbers are not comparable on a year-on-year basis but walk us through the outlook on the biosimilar segment.
The biologics division has come out with a very strong performance. Revenue has grown 53% from Rs 433 crore in Q4 last fiscal to Rs 664 crore in Q4 this fiscal. But last fiscal, we did have an exceptionally low quarter because of the sudden Covid challenge. But having said that, even this year, there have been Covid headwinds but regardless of that, the biologics division did have a very strong showing this quarter. At a consolidated level, we grew 26% this quarter to Rs 2,044 crore from Rs 1,621 crore last fiscal. On an annualised level, our biologics business grew 21% from Rs 2,315 crore to Rs 2,800 crore this fiscal. At a consolidated level, we grew 14% from Rs 6,462 crore to Rs 7,360 crore.
Biologics has definitely been the growth area for the company but Covid impact has delayed recovery here. When are you seeing some sort of a permanent recovery in the growth that you are expecting in biologics?
We are very confident that the growth for next fiscal will be stronger than this fiscal. We had a billion dollar target by FY22 which is unrealistic but we would like to get back to a very high growth trajectory and see how soon we can address the billion dollar opportunity.
We understand that on a sequential basis, you have lost a little bit of market share for the biosimilar segment. Would your new launches help make up for that loss?
We have always seen a drop in the last quarter because there is a little bit of year-end stock accumulation by our partners because they have a calendar year fiscal. Viatris has a calendar year fiscal. In most cases, in the past years, we have seen this effect in the final quarter. But having said that, there is a marginal decline but we expect to see the business pick up in Q1 of FY22.
The generic business was muted but with Covid drugs being in focus, what is the sense that you get? Will the other generic businesses fall as well?
The generics division actually has done fairly well because the formulations business which is what our real growth driver for the generics business had a double digit growth this fiscal. API is, of course, had a single digit growth. There have been some pricing pressures and we have had some delays in approvals because of site inspections where the US FDA has denied us approvals both in biologics and in the generics businesses because of their inability to come and inspect sites.
They have indicated a virtual inspection guideline and we hope that they will do it soon. But suffice to say, we could have generated far greater growth if we had seen these products in the market. For example, we missed out on approval for Bevacizumab because of the need for inspection. Otherwise that would have been in the market by now. The same goes for some of our generic molecules. These are unfortunate misses but we remain confident that going forward, we should be able to see growth coming out of these new products.
Any sort of advice that you have about this second Covid wave?
It is unfortunate that we are in this situation. I believe we must have better pandemic preparedness and rapid response to such waves of this pandemic. We have not seen the last of it yet. We were all caught unaware because we all believed that the worst was over but the worst was yet to come. Now we need to focus on vaccination because it is only through vaccination that we can protect ourselves and not overwhelm the hospitals the way they are today.
I personally believe that we just had no planning. Our response was very weak because we were taken by surprise and we need to learn from this second wave in a very serious way. As a pharmaceutical company that is involved in supplying patients with remdesivir and Itolizumab and CytoSorb, we are doing everything it takes to actually ramp up production.
This is a very difficult time. I keep getting requests every minute and it is heartbreaking to see the kind of request we get because Itolizumab is a life saving drug and when we were not able to supply or cater to the needs of people, I get messages saying my relative died or my father died or my brother died because of lack of drug. It is very heartbreaking. But we are trying everything. I believe that through vaccination alone we can protect ourselves and save the situation. Most parts of the world are opening up because they have vaccinated their populations and many parts of the world who have not been able to vaccinate their populations, are in a lockdown.
Phase three of vaccination will kick start from May 1. What do you see would be the most efficient path to ensure vaccination for all?
The government has taken the right steps to say that 50% of the vaccines will be channelized through the centre. The other 50% will be channelized through state governments and the private sector on an equal basis. I really think that whoever has access to vaccines must take the vaccine. This has to be a public-private partnership.
As a company we ourselves have had the good fortune of being credited as a vaccination centre and we are committed to vaccinating people in this drive. We have already vaccinated over 45-year-olds in our company but we are now getting ready to vaccinate people over 18 and we are offering this not just to our employees and their immediate families but also to people who are in our vicinity. So this is an important effort and we must do this collectively, seamlessly and efficiently because we cannot afford to waste vaccines. We cannot afford to vaccinate at a slow pace. We have to ramp up and do it at speed and scale and there has to be a collective effort.
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