When Piramal Healthcare acquired Cipla’s emergency contraceptive brand ‘i-pill’ last week for Rs 95 crore, sceptics termed it an expensive deal for a brand that clocked sales of Rs 30.2 crore in the last 12 months. However, analysts believe Piramal’s bet on the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) sector is a timely move, as statistics indicate that the sector will be a money spinner in the coming years.
The ECP market is just two years old in India. Its size is pegged at around Rs 100 crore and it has grown by around 250 per cent in the last two years. Sector watchers are confident of robust growth. On record, they avoid giving numbers but they agree that the ECP sector will grow at 80-100 per cent in the next two to three years.
Increase in awareness about the product will be the major driver of growth. “ECP sector is at a nascent stage in India and it is bound to register a healthy growth rate, with increase in awareness about the products. We believe that ‘i-pill’ will contribute significantly to our growth and profitability,” said Murari Rajan, executive director, Piramal Healthcare.
“I will not like to quantify the growth rate, but this sector will continue to grow at a good rate. However, the growth will not be the same as it was in the last two years, main factor being the ban on advertisement of these products on TV,” said Ajit Mahadevan, partner, Ernst & Young, who tracks the pharmaceutical sector.
Within two years the segment has attracted seven players, which are currently selling around 8.2 million tablets annually. Piramal’s ‘i-pill’ is the market leader while Mankind Pharma’s ‘unwanted 72’ is the second on the ladder. Morepen Laboratories, Zydus Cadila and Win Medicare are the other major players.