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The word Sentiss is derived from two words - sensory and Switzerland (sen plus Swiss). Gurgaon-based Sentiss Pharma, promoted by Managing Director Deepak Bahri, is in the business of making medicines for the sensory organs (eye, ear, nose, throat and skin) but at the moment is more focused on eye care products. And it sees Switzerland emerging as its future global marketing and distribution hub - its office was opened in the country in 2013.
Sentiss Pharma was originally launched in 1990 as a partnership firm, Promed Exports. It exported a range of products (formulations) largely to Russia, sourced through contract manufacturing in India. In 2006, it set up its own R&D centre in Gurgaon and in the following year established a manufacturing plant in Himachal Pradesh.
Today, it manufactures almost all its products in-house in India. Ophthalmic products make for almost 95 per cent of its total sales. Russia, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and India are its major markets. "We entered the Indian market in 2011 and plan to double our field force here in the next two to three years," says Bahri, 52.
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Bahri's company spends about seven to 10 per cent of its total sales per annum on R&D which, he asserts, is a lot for a company with a turnover of Rs 250 crore. "We encourage creativity and innovation, and give awards to people who come up with new products, processes and ideas. We encourage them to file patents," says Bahri. "So far, we have filed 36 patents in different countries." The company has a headcount of about 750 - some 550 of these are based in India. The R&D team has about 50 people, all based in Gurgaon.
Sentiss has also been actively working with Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and with Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research (DIPSAR). The company developed two herbal eye drops through these collaborations - for glaucoma and ophthalmic patients. It was awarded a patent for the glaucoma product in March 2014. "They are very focused and working in the field of eye research. It is very unique and not many companies do this, and they seem to be in the right direction," says Prof. S.K. Gupta, Emeritus Professor and former head of Pharmacology at DIPSAR.
Russia and CIS countries (largely Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) contribute about 85 per cent of the total revenues of Sentiss, generated almost entirely through eye care products. The company is now targeting the US market. "We had Food and Drug Administration inspection in March last year, subsequent to which we received a warning letter and investigators observations, They did another inspection in July this year and the company took up further areas for improvement. We hope to enter the US market next year," says Bahri.
In all, the company has some 40 products in its kitty. The focus in the future will not be just on ophthalmic but also on ENT (ear, nose, throat) products. Sentiss has been growing at 20 to 25 per cent but hopes to step it up to 35 to 40 per by entering new markets and expanding its product portfolio. The share of India in total revenues currently is just four per cent but the company hopes to see it touch 10 per cent over the next few years. Sentiss expects to touch sales of Rs 1,500 crore in the next five years.
The future then appears to hold promise for the company.