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The quintessential competitor

Until last fortnight, things were going the way india’s largest drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories and its boss Malvinder Singh had planned.

     Print Edition: April 20, 2008

Until last fortnight, things were going the way india’s largest drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories and its boss Malvinder Singh had planned. In a bid to make Ranbaxy a research-based global pharma giant, Singh had spun off the new drug discovery unit (Ranbaxy Life Science Research) into a subsidiary.

Earlier in March, the company received the US Food and Drug Administration nod to sell the generic version of Risperdal (used in the treatment of schizophrenia) in the US. It also entered into an agreement with CD Pharma India—the Asian affiliate of US-based VSL Pharmaceuticals Inc.—to market its drug Inersan, used for the treatment of dental problems, in India and Nepal.

Malvinder M. Singh
Malvinder M. Singh
But then came the big, bad news. A Canadian federal court reversed the order of a lower court, which had held that Pfizer’s Enantiomer patent could not block Ranbaxy from obtaining approval for a generic version of Lipitor. The new ruling prevents Ranbaxy from launching the generic version of the cholesterol-lowering drug in Canada until 2010, when Pfizer’s Canadian patent for Enantiomer expires. The projected market for Lipitor in Canada is $800 million (Rs 3,200 crore).

The drug major finds itself in troubled waters in the US, too, where the market size for Lipitor is estimated to be $8.5 billion (Rs 34,000 crore).

Name: Malvinder M. Singh

Age: 35

Designation: MD & CEO

Company: Ranbaxy Laboratories
Pfizer has filed patent infringement cases against Ranbaxy for launching generic versions of Lipitor (Atorvastatin) and Caduet (a combination drug of Lipitor), to prevent it from launching the two drugs before 2016. Earlier, Ranbaxy had met with some success in the US by bringing forward the launch of Atorvastatin to March 2010, 15 months before the Lipitor patent expires in July 2011.

Closer home, Singh is already fighting a losing battle with the country’s drug price regulator— National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)—over the price of Ranbaxy’s key antibiotic brand Roscillin. But then, these are at best temporary setbacks for the man whose long-term goal is to make Ranbaxy a global pharmaceutical powerhouse.

Pallavi Srivastava

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