Ranbaxy chief executive plans expansion in US market, beyond


AP

PLAINSBORO TOWNSHIP, New Jersey–The head of Indian drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. says he’s charging ahead with plans to expand sales in the crucial U.S. market, despite extra oversight from American regulators over quality questions that have blocked imports of 31 of its medicines.

Ranbaxy, which almost exclusively makes generic pills, particularly is aiming to regularly be first on the U.S. market with just-approved generic drugs, CEO Arun Sawhney told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.

His goal is to nab the six-month “windfall” period when there’s usually only one generic version on sale, for roughly 25 percent less than the price of the brand-name drug whose patent just ended. Companies can make tens of millions of dollars then, as Ranbaxy just did in selling the first generic rival to cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor, whose U.S. patent expired on Nov. 30.

Ranbaxy, the top-selling pharmaceutical company in India, is just the 12th-largest generic drugmaker in the U.S. by number of prescriptions filled. But in just a few years, its U.S. sales have risen from about a quarter to a third of its total revenue, which was about US$2.1 billion last year.

Along with its U.S. plans, Ranbaxy is working to expand generic sales in emerging markets. Those are heavily populated countries with a growing middle class and rising government spending on health care, from India and China to Brazil and Russia.