All opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is Auto Bailout a prelude for others to ask for help and an admission of “lack of vision”?

Head Line:

"An Auto Bailout Would Be Terrible for Free Trade"
Does anyone really expect other countries to ignore our subsidies?"

American automobile industry gave the world automobiles and held everyone in awe. However, the dire straights of automobile industry suggest that it never thought much of the future. German cars were always considered a luxury and quality product and never considered a threat for the mass producers. It was the Japanese followed by the Korean cars who really changed the playing field by bringing quality from the get go. Their quality, styling and innovation were the first threat to the survival of the US automobile industry. However, the US automobile industry has been slow to catch up. A recent article in Wall Street Journal How Detroit Drove Into a Ditch gave an excellent overview of how the industry has arrived at its current state.

Japanese brought quality to the masses of the world and the world jumped on quality without paying luxury prices. World was hungry for quality and fuel efficiency and did not get it from American carmakers.

Now the American carmakers are in trouble asking for the government help. If they are given a straw would they ask for more? Would other industries that are not able to compete with quality and cost would ask for government help and protection. It is very possible.

Why are we there? Blame would lie squarely on the management of the companies for the lack of their foresight in innovation and delivering to the customer anticipated fuel efficiency. Whatever happens in the auto world, it will work out for the good of the country. Better management is the answer. Asking for a government handout is taking advantage of the current economic woes rather than being responsible for their own inability.

If we step back and see any similarity with any other industry that has served the human kind but is experiencing some turbulent waters. It is the Ethical Pharmaceuticals.

Since 2005 the Ethical pharmaceuticals have been facing head winds with their age-old “blockbuster” model. They will loose about $60 billion dollars in revenue in the next three to four years. They have very little in their pipeline. They are scrambling to determine how they can sustain their revenue growth. The Generic pharmaceutical companies are also challenging them on their turf.

Would pharmaceuticals be the next in the handout line if they cannot solve their challenges i.e. start growing their revenue with new drugs? History is repeating for the pharmaceuticals as it did for the chemicals, textiles and steel industry. Chemical and textile industries have mostly moved overseas. Steel industry innovated its technologies to survive. May be the time has come for the pharmaceuticals to innovate their R&D and manufacturing technologies which they have acknowledged needs attention.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Is Pharmaceutical Consolidation on Horizon?

Recently I had opined the following. Since then I keep reading views at other websites. [http://www.pharmatimes.com/WorldNews/article.aspx?id=14672]. I still believe that a consolidation is needed to quickly fill the pipeline. Industry is venerable and the only reason Venture Capitalists have not moved in due to the current credit crunch. Once the monetary crunch eases, we should see the beginning of consolidation. Increasing layoffs are suggesting that financial preservation is a must but it is coming at the expense of the basic knowledge base which is going to be difficult to replace. R&D and Manufacturing technologies need to be brought to 21st Century. Even with that, the basic business model will have to be revised. With increasing global effluence, market size will increase. In the increased market size the need for generics will be higher than the ethical drugs.

"If one sifts through and compiles the news about the pharmaceutical companies, a clear trend with respect to their shifting business model starts to emerge. Slowly but surely, major pharmaceutical companies are behind the scene inching toward being a combination of "Block Buster, Bio-tech and Generic" model. This is their last and the only hope. Merck is experimenting a new business model of selling patented drug (Januvia) at one-fifth the US price level in India. Glaxo is venturing in South Africa and Egypt. These are undeclared secrets. Daiichi Sanyo has bought Ranbaxy. I am sure others are in the works.

I believe Ethical pharmaceuticals are not very clear about what they want to be. As a result, they are dabbling with every opportunity they see i.e. riding many boats with the hope that one will take them to the promise land. If they clearly define their mission, they might just need one big and strong boat (it could be a combination of blockbuster, bio-tech and generic) to take them to the goal. This will allow them to properly focus their attention.

Competing with the Generic producers is going to be a challenge for the Ethical producers. Their knowledge base is shrinking through lay-offs. Their manufacturing technology is not current. If the Ethical companies do want to go in serve ethical and generic markets, they will have to have very efficient manufacturing technologies that can offset generic producers cost advantages. They can achieve this by collaborating and/or acquiring Indian or Chinese companies. With the globe shrinking, second option is more likely. If this happens, it will lead to an eventual global consolidation in the pharmaceuticals."