'We plan to invest Rs. 1,000 Cr in the next 3 to 4 years.' Priyanka Chigurupati, Executive Director, Granules Pharmaceutical Inc.

'We plan to invest Rs. 1,000 Cr in the next 3 to 4 years.' Priyanka Chigurupati, Executive Director, Granules Pharmaceutical Inc.

In an exclusive interview with Rahul Koul of Indian Chemical News, Priyanka Chigurupati, Executive Director, Granules Pharmaceuticals Inc. USA shared details about the company's performance, R&D initiatives, Capex plan, CSR, and future outlook. Excerpts of the interview:

  • By Rahul Koul | June 10, 2021

How has Granules India responded to the COVID-19 pandemic challenge?

We tried to be as proactive as we could with handling of COVID-19 situation. While running the facilities without disruptions was a priority, ensuring employee safety while following the government restrictions was a bigger priority. We did a lot of contract tracing, ensured any sign of illness was caught at the right time and right remediation measures were in place for the employees and their families. We had a lot of sanitization measures in place and ensured social distancing was in play. We also had a lot of the staff work from home. Most importantly, we ensured that the right medical amenities were made available to the employees and the families.

What are the major R&D initiatives and investments made on key projects at Granules? Areas of focus and outcomes so far?

Over the last few years, we have been constantly investing in R&D, expanding our product portfolio to address the prospective demand across global markets and meeting global regulatory standards. Our focus areas have been diversifying the portfolio by development of large volume products with unparalleled process efficiencies, moving from simple IR products to complex ER dosage forms, and being integrated to the extent feasible on key molecules.

As on 31 Mar 2021, we have filed 24 DMFs in the US market and 26 DMFs in the European market. In finished dosage form, we filed 51 ANDAs with the USFDA of which 40 ANDAs have been approved and 11 are under review. We also filed two dossiers in European region and 3 ANDAs filings in Canada. We have over 50 dossiers under development. All of this is made possible by constant efforts by our R&D team. We will continue to strengthen our R&D by investing in new capabilities and expanding capacity.

How do you view the govt's PLI scheme to boost domestic pharma API manufacturing India? Is it lucrative enough for industry?

India is dependent upon China and other countries for a lot of Key Starting Materials (KSM) for their bulk drug needs. To have self-sufficiency for our bulk drug industry, the government has come out with a PLI scheme for certain API and KSM to be made out of a greenfield facility set up specifically for this purpose. We feel that the quantitative restriction on certain KSM would be a bit of a dampener to utilize the same. We do have certain technologies which we are working with some of our partners who would be investing for certain of the KSM. We might not participate but will subscribe for the quantities produced by our partners.

What was the revenue and PAT achieved by the company during the FY 2020-21? Your expectations for revenue in FY 2021-22 and growth drivers?

During FY 20-21, the company had a top line of Rs. 3,237 crores with a bottom line of Rs. 549 crores. In FY 21-22, we are estimating a PAT growth of 20% assuming the Covid situation doesn’t dampen our efforts further. The major growth drivers would be the increased volumes and geographies of our legacy business and new product launches in the US while increasing our product penetration in the new geographies.

What are the company's major plans in terms of technology adoption and digitalization across various business verticals?

The company has been on the latest SAP HANA platform for the last 4 years and generally works on the cutting edge technologies. We are implementing digital quality management systems across our facilities to improve quality compliance and process efficiency. To move out of technological obsolescence, we started leasing IT assets, which would get renewed every 3 years. Due to the pandemic, we moved all our banking operations online to avoid usage of cheques. The company also uses various technological solutions to be on the forefront in various manufacturing operations too.

Capex investment made by a company to set up a new manufacturing plant or expansion into new territories?

The company is planning its next round of Capex cycle and would be investing around Rs. 1,000 crores in the next 3 to 4 years. We are looking at a greenfield formulations’ facility in Genome valley for around Rs. 450 crores, around Rs. 300 crores would be spent on API expansions in Vizag, remaining on other Capex activities in the US, and maintenance Capex. We believe that this additional Capex will not only strengthen our position in existing areas of focus; provide fixed depositcapacities to launch new R&D products, manufacture larger volumes of the existing and new APIs and add to our packaging capabilities in the US but will also position us to take on manufacturing requirements for the business development activities that are being evaluated.

Major CSR initiatives undertaken in the recent past? Any initiatives to address humanitarian crisis and medical emergencies during the ongoing pandemic?

The company works in CSR areas in and around its plants to strive for the upliftment of the people in these regions. We along with Swarna Bharat Trust work for the welfare of students who have passed class XII and are given basic training about pharmaceutical operations and are absorbed as trainees in various Granules factories. While doing their training they also earn a degree and become a full-fledged pharma professional after 3 years. Recently, the company has donated Rs. 16 crore Paracetamol tablets to the government of Telangana for their drive against COVID-19.

Future business outlook of Granules India in 2021?

At this point, the only outlook we have is to ensure that we are able to run the facilities without any disruptions so our customers and patients across the world have an uninterrupted access to medication.

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