Bayer is looking to the emerging markets for future growth and India is particularly attractive for the firm which is weighing up the possibility of an acquisition and collaborations there.

Speaking to PharmaTimes World News at the firm’s autumn press conference in Leverkusen, Arthur Higgins, chairman of Bayer HealthCare, said that growth in China, Brazil, Mexico and Russia is of vital importance, especially given the slowdown of sales of drugs being seen by in the traditional markets of the USA, Europe and Japan. Bayer is now the third biggest western-based healthcare group in China and it is rebuilding its sales forces there to ensure that growth there continues.
However he gave a special mention to India and spoke of the potential that market offers. Mr Higgins has just returned from the country and said that “I’m a great believer in India”, noting that from being “nowhere”, Bayer is building up its operations there, citing the case of its diabetes business there. Launched from zero, the company now has 100 people looking to push the unit forward, through innovative and “clever” advertising.

He added that the firm is very interested in collaborations with Indian drugmakers and as well as growing organically, “we may buy something”. Although best-known for manufacturing generics, a number of India’s pharmaceutical firms are now also concentrating on innovative treatments and Ranbaxy, Dr Reddy’s, Nicolas Piramal and Sun Laboratories have all recently announced plans to spin off or set up separate research ventures, which Mr Higgins said could be of great interest to Bayer.

He added that the cost of research there is “significantly different” to the west and tapping into the vast knowledge base provided by India’s scientists is an attractive proposition. Bayer’s healthcare chief also told PharmaTimes World News that he was not concerned by any intellectual property issues in the country.

Recently Novartis has been embroiled in a row with India’s authorities after the rejection of a controversial product patent application for the anticancer drug Glivec (imatinib mesylate) but that case has certainly not put off Bayer off from looking at investing in R&D there. Mr Higgins said that his company is confident that its patents are protected and has no problem with the laws there.

By Kevin Grogan in Leverkusen