Astellas Pharma, the second largest Japanese drug company, has set up a wholly-owned subsidiary in India, making it the third Japanese pharma major after Daiichi Sankyo and Eisai to tap the growing Indian pharmaceutical market.
While Daiichi Sankyo acquired a majority share in the country’s biggest drug-maker Ranbaxy, Eisai and Astellas have chosen to set up wholly-owned subsidiaries to promote their patented medicines in the country.
In a communication to the Nikkei Stock Exchange on November 18, Astellas said its subsidiary Astellas Pharma India in Mumbai was set up as a marketing arm to sell its immunology and urology medicines.
“Astellas is aiming to further expand within Asia with this entry into the Indian market as a foothold,” it said. India is the fourth largest pharmaceutical market in Asia after Japan, China and Korea.
Astellas said it expects the Indian pharmaceutical market to further expand as the intellectual property rights are getting strengthened after the establishment of product patent regime in 2005. The new regime allows patent protection for products instead of the earlier system of patenting “processes”. Under the earlier system, Indian companies could legally develop a low-cost version of the innovator’s product through different processes.
Astellas runs its business globally including Europe, the US and Asia and has its marketing subsidiaries in seven countries — China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong-Kong, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia — of Asia.
Eisai, which was among the early entrants among the Japanese players to foray into the Indian market, has invested in setting up a manufacturing site and research centre in Andhra Pradesh.
The changes in the Indian patent law had seen several of the global pharmaceutical majors in Europe and the United States showing keen interest to set up base in the country. The US-based Merck or MSD is one such example where a global drug major, which had shut down its Indian operations due to hostile intellectual property climate, returned to set base in the country.