The cough syrup market is gearing up for a shake-up.
With the ban imposed on 350 fixed-dose combination (FDC) drugs set to phase out popular codeine-based cough syrup brands from pharmacies across India, a new line of non-codeine cough syrups, both herbal and allopathic, are likely to hit the market.
FDCs combine two or more drugs in a single pill.
The list of brands set to go off shelf include household names Grilinctus, Corex, D’Cold, Glycodin Plus, Zedex and Phensedyl.
In a well-timed move, ayurveda major Dabur splashed big advertisements of popular cough syrup brand, Honitus. The budget for a day’s advertisement was `1.5 crore, sources said. “It is an opportunity for us to drive awareness about our brand, which is non-codeine,” said Rana Banerjee, marketing head, healthcare, Dabur India.
Delhi-based Mankind Pharma has also pushed its team to promote non-codeine syrups. “We have started pushing our other prescription brands, which includes unbanned product, Ambroxol(Plain),” said RC Juneja, CEO, Mankind Pharma.
While most companies did not officially clarify their plans as the cases are still sub-judice, doctors confirmed that firms have started promoting unbanned variants.
“Companies are promoting variants, which are non-codeine, but come under the same brand names,” said RK Singhal, internal medicine at BLK Hospital.
For example, Abbott’s Phensedyl’s variant Phensedyl LR is not banned.
New players are also looking to cash in.
Alchem International, which operates in the field of phytochemicals — the science of using plant molecules for medicinal purposes — has introduced a cough and flu remedy under a brand name ‘PhytoRelief CC’. “The idea is to promote our product across doctors and chemists. We plan to double our strength of medical representatives (MRs) in the next three years,” said Raman Mehta, founder, Alchem International, which has around 200 MRs.
Himalaya has recently introduced a sugar-free variant of its cough remedy, Koflet. “We are currently working on an exciting new offering, which will be launched sometime this year,” said Suresh, business head, pharmaceuticals, The Himalaya Drug Company.
“We are sending our sales team to make doctors understand Ascoril is not under the drug ban list and could be prescribed,” said an official from Glenmark. Glenmark’s Ascoril and Alex are not banned, however, another cough remedy, Mucaryl, is banned.