Phase II, III trials underway for COVID vaccine: Emcure MD
Emcure Pharmaceuticals Ltd is seeing new growth opportunities in biologics and vaccines which it intends to introduce in various emerging markets. Being the first Indian company to have developed an indigenous mRNA platform, it is in the process of developing an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine via its subsidiary Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd., for which it has received funding from the Government of India. Three other vaccines on its mRNA platform are in development stages, targeted at Zoster, Zika and Rabies, said Satish Mehta, MD and CEO.
At what stage is your COVID vaccine?
In August, the Vaccine Subject Expert Committee (SEC) reviewed the interim Phase I data, and found that our vaccine candidate HGCO19 was safe, tolerable, and immunogenic in the participants of the study.
The Drug Controller General of India then approved Phase II and Phase III study protocols for the vaccine, which are currently underway in India.
We are committed to fulfilling the target of 60 million doses of our mRNA vaccine to the Government of India. As we near the final stages of trials for our vaccine, we look forward to positively contributing in the nation’s fight against the pandemic.
Most Indians will be vaccinated by the time it is out. Are you not late in the game?
We are constantly watching the developments in India and all over the world. Our assessment as well as commentary by various experts indicate there will be a reasonable demand for booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines in India. There is also likely to be an additional demand from countries where large part of population has not yet been vaccinated. There is also expected to be a demand for the paediatric category in India. We will continue to work towards addressing these opportunities where mRNA platform has shown promising prospects (especially given our candidate being stable between 2-80 Celsius).
What is the new drug discovery pipeline at the company? How and when will they be monetised?
We are an R&D driven company and our focus has always been on science first. We have a strong track record in developing portfolios of differentiated products across several platforms, including chiral molecules, complex APIs, biologics and novel drug delivery systems. Our aim is to bring first to market specialty or differentiated generic drugs through the company’s own R&D efforts which we continue to [make] to address the needs in the various geographies where we operate (i.e. India, Europe, Canada).
What are the core therapeutic areas of your work? What is the scale-up and investment plan?
In India, we are present in 19 different therapeutic areas that makes our offerings well-diversified. Seven of our brands namely Orofer, Exhep, Metpure, Asomex, Zostum and Bevon are among the top 300 selling brands in India. Our approach has been to develop a customised basket of diverse product offerings which we feel are suitable for the market allowing us to do well in various regions.
We are the largest pharmaceutical company in India in the gynaecology, blood-related and HIV antivirals therapeutic areas. We have also outgrown the Indian pharmaceutical industry in some other key areas like cardiovascular, oncology, vitamins, minerals and nutrients, anti-infectives and anti-diabetics.
We also have a good portfolio of biosimilars where three of our six brands namely Elaxim, Tenectase and Hamsyl, were each ranked first in our domestic market for FY21, in terms of sales in India for their respective molecules. Complex injectables is another focus area for us as a technology platform. We also intend to expand our market share in newer target areas like neurology, diabetes, respiratory and gastrointestinal.
Are you planning any acquisitions?
We rely in part on inorganic growth to increase our revenue and expand our geographic presence. We have, in the past, evaluated and executed strategic acquisitions of companies, products and technologies or entered into partnerships to strengthen our product and technology infrastructure. We intend to continue to pursue strategic acquisitions across key markets and in-licensing of pharmaceutical products of other companies for our key and focus therapeutic areas
What is your five-year growth plan?
Our market share domestically has been growing steadily over the years. In the last few months, we have constantly outgrown the IPM and are now ranked among the top 12 companies in India by market share. We aspire to continue to climb the ranks in the domestic market through execution and new product launches.
For international markets, we will continue to drive growth through a combination of entering new markets, and gaining additional share in existing markets driven by new product registrations and pipeline, thanks to our R&D efforts.
How much debt do you carry? What is the debt-reduction plan?
As on March 31, our net debt stood at ₹1,589 crore. We intend to utilise a majority of the net proceeds from our forthcoming IPO towards repayment or prepayment of all or a portion of the principal amount on certain loans availed by us and the accrued interest.
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