Dear Colleagues!  This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #618 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi onWordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

Opening Note

February 2022 marked my completing 47 years of working in Pharma Industry. Allah be praised. I am still working. The first half of my working career was spent in Multinational companies, and the latter half in the Local Pharma, making me well-versed with both innovators and generics markets. I also had the opportunity to work in business as well as operations.

My journey of near half century is also the journey of Pharma Industry in Pakistan. Great changes have occurred in this time and a lot could be written about it. In my blogs, which were started about four and a half years ago, I have covered several topics related to Pakistan Pharma Industry. This multi-part series shall do and review the SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – of the Pharma Industry.


It is now time to strategize, as this was the purpose of this long exercise.

Strategies are made on these parameters:

  • Strategies based on Strengths
  • Strategies to mitigate Weaknesses
  • Strategies to exploit Opportunities
  • Strategies to avert Threats

We shall follow the same line of thinking.

Strategies Based on Strengths

Local Pharma Strengths are mostly related to their direction/ orientation, which is to live in the present, only. It is good to live in the present if it is not limited to it. Present is what the market is showing, where it is going, and how is it behaving. But there must be longer term plans and strategies based on the future outlook is. We shall propose both types – short term, and long term.

Short Term/ Mid Term Market-based Strategies

  1. Continuous Introduction of New Products
    1. The MNCs’ approach to marketing new products is to introduce new products after long intervals. Their research brands come at a slow pace, and each brand is developed deliberately and elaborately. Whether it is acute-care product or chronic-care, it is introduced with a limited number of indications. The use in these indications is promoted and established with the help of clinical information, studies, and seeding. Foreign speakers may be invited to reinforce company promotion, and to influence the potential prescribers. You would notice that after the first set of indications, new indications would be added and promoted with the same aggression. The strategy is to link the patient, his disease, and his profile with the promoted drug. It is a powerful combination, and we see that the MNCs’ brands are entrenched in various indications; whenever a patient presents with such problem, the physician thinks about the drug. Generic products are also built around indications, but as a replacement, and the replacements are many and compete fiercely. The share is fragmented. Therefore, the generic company must work with a large portfolio. Constant introduction of new products is desired.
    1. The MNCs build their brands strategically and in the way that the product life cycle is extended over many years. They invest time and resources and work patiently towards brand building. Their brands, once established, have a long life, and keep bearing fruit year after year. We see fifty-years old brands still selling strongly. The strategy of generic products in the very beginning was designed in the same way, ostensibly because these were designed by ex-MNC people. However, the time has shown that the generic brands do not have the same longevity of life cycle as the research brands. Very few generic brands have been able to defy this pattern, and those are the one which were used by everybody for common ailments. Dicloran of Sami Pharmaceuticals is probably the greatest example. Pulmonol was another one, till it was undermined by the company itself. Look at other brands which reigned supreme at one time, and where they are. Among the generics of Velosef (cephradine), Hilton Pharma had a very successful launch of Valodin. While Velosef is still alive and growing, Valodin is long lost. The generic market is littered with such products which shined for a while and then went into oblivion. This is the second major reason why generic companies must keep bringing new products.
  2. Consider Different Business Trajectory
    1. I would like to draw analogy between research brands and generics from cricket. Research brands play test cricket, deliberately building upon gains and working steadfastly over time. Generics are limited-overs game; come, take the market share, and go. Contrary to popular belief, the one-day cricket was not started by the Australian Kerry Packer, owner of Channel 9. The original idea came from Sir Donald Bradman. In January 1971, a test match in Australia lost first three days of play due to rain. It was then decided to abandon that test match and hold a limited over game of 40 overs of 8 balls for each side. In 1976, Kerry Packer presented a 1.5 million A$, three-year contract deal to Australia Cricket Board – ACB for exclusive rights of telecasting of matches. They rejected. Packer went ahead and announced his own cricket of limited overs matches. He enticed big players by offering unprecedented amounts of money and the players were lured. The world cricket bodies were furious and fined and banned any player who played for Packer. Packer ran his World Cricket Series between 1977 and 1979. Despite furious resistance from the cricket bodies, the die was cast and the ODI made its place. You would also remember that for quite some time, ODI was also played on the pattern of test match; the batsmen would come and try to settle before collecting runs. This was changed by the Sri Lankans who started blasting from the first ball. There was no settling luxury thing. The trend took other teams by surprise but then everyone started following the same. T20 is an even faster version of limited-overs game. The point I am raising is as follows.
      1. Generic products must follow the T20 spirit when they introduce new products. They must come aggressively, grab the market share, and then settle. They will reach plateau later and other newcomers will erode their share.
      1. The point has been proven by many examples. At one time Wilson/Werrick employed this strategy. More recently, Horizon has done it with Dexlansoprazole, Empagliflozin, and Ondansetron generics.
      1. The new business strategy must be to enter the market with a new product with all guns blazing, and expect that after some time, the plateau will arrive, and decline will be there.

To be Continued……

Disclaimer. Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images which does not show anyone’s copyright claim. However, if any such claim is presented, we shall remove the image with suitable regrets.

Leave a Reply