Mumbai: Dr Kunal Saxena, Managing Director, Rusan Pharma, interacted with EThealthworld’s Prabhat Prakash on the current scenario of addiction treatment, the impact that the new API facility in Pithampur will have, and new innovative methods of addiction treatment that the company is working on. Edited Excerpts.
We are a company that makes four main products for addiction treatment globally. We make all of those four products and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). That gives us the competitive edge to make the API and the finished formulation. There’s methadone, which is a complete narcotic; buprenorphine, which is psychrotrophic; and naltrexone and naloxone for opioid overdose. These four products make up addiction treatment globally. We have a huge expanse across India, covering a lot of NGOs and a lot of private centres for addiction treatment coverage. Globally, there are about 296 million drug users worldwide, and in India, there are 23 million drug users, as per the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment report of 2019. This covers only about one per cent or even less for addiction treatment, both from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), government tenders, and the private sector combined.
Please elaborate on the features of the new API facility in Pithampur. How does it align with your company’s commitment to sustainability and technological advancement?
We currently have one API facility, which is in Ankleshwar, Gujarat, and has a total capacity of about 40 metric tonnes. This new facility that we have set up is about 400 metric tonnes. Having two facilities in different areas ensures consistency in supply, supply chain competitiveness, and working to ensure that the products are available at an affordable price. The main reasons are capacity and security of supply when setting up this new facility.What has been the primary objective in establishing this facility, and how does it differ from the other facilities?
Our internal consumption is growing for the treatment of addiction and pain management. So we need this new facility to grow to cater to the growing demand in these two areas. Since we make finished formulations not just for India but globally, we’re setting up our offices globally, and that is why we need this new enhanced capacity with all the approvals and security of the supply chain.
What is the expected impact of the plant on India’s pharmaceutical sector? How much will it contribute to your organisation’s exports?
Currently, the turnover of the company is about Rs 402 crore, out of which 56 per cent comes from exports and the rest comes from domestic market sales in India. Both have API and finish formulation. This new facility, because of the scale and the growing demands, setting up front-end offices globally, and our registration, will contribute to almost doubling our current turnover, which is important for our organisation. So that’s about Rs 300 crore that we will get as revenue over the next few years.
Please share some details on the investments in the facility and its potential for the Indian pharma sector.
Currently, we have put it in two phases. The manufacturing block of the Pithampur facility has five modules; three of them are active currently, which is the first phase, and then there are two more modules that we are going to expand in the next second phase. That’s about a total investment of about Rs 300 crore. Hopefully, we will be doubling our turnover as well with the addition of this new facility.
How has your organisation collaborated with the government to address addiction and pain management challenges in India?
Earlier, the government would treat all the addiction treatment patients as criminals, and they would be put in jail or be prosecuted for it. To change the mindset of the government, we were able to start addiction treatment by collaborating with NGOs, they supported us, the private fraternity supported us, and we got all these products under Form 46 registered in India as innovators. And today, the products are a cornerstone for the government (for example, for NACO, buprenorphine is the cornerstone for addiction treatment).
Please share insights into the company’s approach to innovation, especially in introducing technologically advanced products in addiction and pain management.
The company has always been focused on addiction treatment and pain management in innovative delivery forms. We are not just making buprenorphine sublingual tablets as a normal tablets, but we are now focusing on long-acting formulations because for all of these addiction treatment products, one needs to take them daily. So the patient needs to come every day for one year. To make that life easier, so that they can then socially integrate, we are developing formulations like one-month depo injection, weekly depo injection for addiction treatment for alcoholism, we’re developing naltrexone depo injection. These long-acting formulations allow the government, the industry, and the doctors to scale up the requirement. In the state of Punjab and all border states, addiction is almost an epidemic. There are huge numbers of people coming in for de-addiction treatment. About 100 patients are coming to these de-addiction centres per day in Punjab, so when that happens, the volume when you’re taking innovation is a cornerstone where we need such long-acting formulations, and we’re developing those.