Cipla – Risky or Trustworthy?

by Edward S. 2014-07-30

Cipla was founded in 1935 by Dr. K. A. Hamied, who wished to make India self-sufficient in healthcare. Its name is an anagram for Chemical, Industrial and Pharmaceutical Laboratories. It is currently present in over 170 countries through exports and strategic alliances. Cipla also has over 40 manufacturing units around India (8 in Goa, Bengaluru, Baddi, Indore, Kurkumbh, Patalganga and Sikkim), which make Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and formulations, all approved by the major international regulatory agencies. It also has a presence in South Africa, through its CIPLA Medpro company, which was initially a joint venture, as well as in Europe through CIPLA Croatia. CIPLA Medpro is now among the top three South African pharmaceutical firms by size.

Despite being a generic drug manufacturer, CIPLA still dedicates considerable resources to research and development (R&D). Each year, around 5-6% of the company’s turnover goes is pumped into R&D with the company introducing on average more than 40 new products a year. The R&D efforts focus on the following areas:

  • Developing new drug formulations.
  • Improving existing processes.
  • Developing new drug delivery systems for existing and newer active drug substances.
  • Tie-ups with independent research teams to develop new products.
  • Strengthening intellectual property and the patenting of new products.
  • Conducting studies for obtaining regulatory approval for new products and services.

In all, Cipla company has over 2,000 products in 65 therapeutic categories, ranging from communicable, non-communicable, common to emerging and rare diseases.

Mission:

Cipla’s mission is to be a leading global healthcare company which uses technology and innovation to meet everyday needs of all patients.

Product Reviews

There are several reviews of Cipla products online, most of them concerning products in which some special performance is expected from the product (examples include products which promise hair-loss prevention, stronger sexual performance or work-out supplements). Just a few of the examples are listed below.

Reviews of Cipla Tadacip, Cipla generic version of Viagra

“There is only one major difference between Cipla Viagra and Pfizer Viagra – the price!”

  • “I prefer Cipla’s Tadacip myself (generic Cyalis). It lasts up to 36 hours so basically if you take a pill every 3 days, you’re ready to rock at any time – no need to plan when you want to have sex.”
  • “I know a website which sells it and it works nice. If you find a store selling Cipla Viagra, just go for it. Cipla is FDA approved!”

Source

Review of Tugain Foam, Hair gain treatment

Pros:

  • “Does stop and control control hair fall.”
  • “Affordable for a brand name like Cipla.”
  • “Easily available in medical stores.”
  • “Contains minoxidil which has proven very helpful for controlling hair fall.”
  • “Nozzle is very easy to use and also helps to control the amount needed for usage.”

Cons:

  • “Strong and unpleasant smell.”
  • “Does not re-grow hair as mentioned.”
  • “Contains alcohol which might be an issue for some.”
  • “Makes hair very oily and greasy.”
  • “Quantity does not last for long if used daily as directed.”

Overall rating: 3/5.

Source

Review of Cipla VC15 – Vitamin C Serum

  • “This is Vitamin C serum with 15% concentration, it cost me Rs 1500. This was supposed to remove my dark spots and even out my complexion. But it did the reverse and darkened my skin. I have to do bleach to remove darkness (personally, I don’t like bleaching). I might choose to some other brand but this wasn’t suitable for my skin.”
  • “Pros: Didn’t do anything to me. I am even wondering on what basis they have made those big claims, just because they think they have named it VITMAIN C Serum.”
  • “Cons: Darkened the complexion, very expensive.”
  • “Rating: 1/5.”

Source

Reviews of Cipla Nutrition Pump 3D XTR

Positive Reviews:

  • “Good pump, good strength.”
  • “Will use again.”
  • “I can go flat out for 2 hours on this product. Your endurance is boosted. No hard crashes after. I’ve increased my dose after adapting to it, with good results. I do not see this working if you need to push more but longer..Yes!”

Negative Reviews:

  • “Not a good pre-workout. Does nothing except provide intense tingling feeling sometimes. No strength boost, nothing. Decided to give hemorage a break for the week and used this. Almost injured myself trying to lift the same weights as usual.”
  • “I’m sorry to say that I was somewhat disappointed with this product. Zero pump, some tingle. The product might have been oldish (?!) as I noticed some crusty bits in the mix. Definitely won’t buy it again.”

Source

List of Merchandise

The company produces Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), formulations, personal care products and veterinary medicines. Its range of generic drugs increases all the time and the list is currently impressive. Its formulations include the following: Allergy, Analgesic, Anti-malarial, Anti-infectives, Cardiology, Dermatology, Diabetology, Gastroenterology, HIV-Aids (CIPLA is the world’s biggest seller in this area), Hormones and steroids, Iron chelators, Musculoskeletal, Neuropsychiatry, Nutritional products, Ophthalmic products, Oncology, Respiratory, Urology, Women’s health, Veterinary health (equine, general care, livestock and poultry)

The company also offers a range of medical products such as inhalers, non-static spacers, baby masks and nasal sprays. See Appendix for images of just some of Cipla’s products.

Regulatory Approval

Without regulatory approval, CIPLA cannot effectively break into new markets, so there is a constant effort in their R&D department to work with regulators and find solutions to regulatory barriers. This has yielded considerable success over the past twenty years. This typically involves working with foreign partners to file Drug Master Files (DMFs) and Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDAs) in the United States, seeking marketing authorizations in Europe and product registrations in other geographical markets.

Cipla Manufacturing Unit

Cipla Manufacturing Unit

The company adheres to strict internal quality control, before ever approaching any of the regulatory bodies. A brief outline is provided on the corporate website of the procedure that is undertaken to ensure that everything produced by the firm reaches the quality demanded:

Cipla Production Facility in Goa

Cipla Production Facility in Goa

State of the art manufacturing facilities are cGMAP compliant (current Good Manufacturing Practices) in conformity with national and international standards. They are equipped with hi-tech sophisticated machines to achieve a high level of accuracy and precision.
Cipla’s quality control labs have the latest high precision equipment that build quality at every stage of processing, including inputs. They have a dedicated pool of talent who consistently ensure that the highest quality and safety standards are built into their products.
Cipla maintains world-class quality for their products and services across domestic and overseas markets, thereby ensuring that every patient has access to the best medicines available on the market (one of the company’s goals at its foundation).
Cipla constantly upgrades its manufacturing facilities and adapts the technological innovations in its facilities to consistently excel and produce high quality medicines at affordable prices.

Cipla Quality Control Testing

Cipla Quality Control Testing

This range of measures ensures that the firm gives itself the best possible chance of meeting the regulatory requirements of the FDA and the like. Cipla gained its first FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval to sell drugs on the United States drugs market in the 1980s. This was a major step in its goal of achieving international recognition for its products, with the United States at that time representing the world’s largest market for over-the-counter drugs. In 2012, Cipla gained FDA approval to export to the United States from its second biggest plant in India, giving it further license to market its products in the United States. In total, the firm has 16 NDA filings.

In addition, Cipla has 139 DMFs, 87 registered ANDAs and 25 ANDAs under review in the United States. It possesses about 1,000 DMFs for a total of 101 APIs and over 700 marketing authorizations in Europe as well as over 10,000 product registrations worldwide. The WHO have pre-qualified 49 of Cipla’s products.

Cipla in Western News

Cipla features reasonably regularly in the western financial press. There is a noticeable change in perceptions in western media towards the company, however. It is referred to as “cheap,” rather than “affordable” (which is the main message provided by the company itself). This nomenclature is probably affecting Cipla even now as it tries to break into new markets.

“Many of India’s drug manufacturing facilities are of top quality. Cipla, one of the industry giants, has 40 plants across the country that can together produce more than 21 billion tablets and capsules annually and one of its plants in Goa appeared just as sterile, automated and and high tech on a recent tour as those in the United States.
Cipla follows FDA guidelines at every plant and on every manufacturing line and the company exports more than 55 percent of its production, said Yusuf Hamied, the company chairman.”

— February 14th, 2014. New York Times.

“Indian Drug Manufacturer to sell cheap copy of Tamiflu – An indian pharmaceutical company is gearing up to sell a cheap version of , the leading patented antiviral flu drug, to emerging economies, in a move that will again pitch intellectual property rights against affordable access to medicines. Cipla, based in Mumbai, said yesterday it had agreed to sell significant quantities of its Antiflu preparation to Mexico, the country at the centre of the current flu outbreak. The move came only hours after the World Health Organisation said the drug was as effective as Tamiflu.”

— May 14th, 2009. Financial Times.

“Cipla Rises as Teva Reported to Woo Indian Generics Maker – Teva, the world’s largest generics maker, is seeking to bolster growth through deals and as much as $2 billion in cost cuts. The purchase would give Teva access to Cipla’s manufacturing base in India, its emerging markets presence, and its global share of the market for respiratory drugs, the publication reported, citing an unnamed consultant. The newspaper’s report is “purely baseless and speculative in nature,” Cipla said in an e-mailed statement. “We have consistently denied such rumors in the past and continue to do so.”

— May 8th, 2014, Businessweek.

Media Buzz

The vast majority of media references to Cipla online are made by Indian media sources, which is to be expected, given the company’s Indian background. Cipla tends to attract quite positive publicity and the company is certainly active, judging from the news content. Below are some of the new articles surrounding the firm over the past 60 days. Note in particular the last article from May 8, 2014, which suggests that Cipla may be the subject of a takeover bid from global pharmaceutical giant, Teva.

“Cipla appoints Adil Zainulbhai as an independent director”

— July 25, 2014, India Times

“Cipla buys remaining 75% stake in Mabpharm”

— July 17, 2014, DNA India

“Cipla invests £100 million in UK”

— July 11, 2014, PMLive

“Cipla to buy 51% stake in Yemeni company”

— June 30, 2014, FreePress Journal

“Cambridge Varsity Honour for Cipla Chief”

— June 30, 2014, The Hindu Business Line

“Cipla Rises as Teva Reported to Woo Indian drugmaker”

— May 8, 2014, Bloomberg

Cipla on Social Media

Cipla is “liked” by 14,961 people on Facebook. Like most firms, it uses this social medium to provide news as it arrives. The Cipla page features some news stories about its chairman receiving an honorary doctorate, its takeover of a firm in Yemen as well as a number of uplifting photos showing people who have benefitted from the affordable medication provided by Cipla. Most of its posts don’t receive much attention and it’s an area that the firm would do well to focus on in future.

The company doesn’t yet have a presence on Twitter but where it is mentioned, the feedback is generally either news-related or through positive commentary from people who have bought their products (and seem to be enjoying them).

There is a video: “Inside the Indian Generic Drug Manufacturer Cipla” on YouTube, produced by CNEN, an independent news feature firm based in Washington D.C; Views: 2,237.

“Cipla produces one third of the aids medications used in Africa”.

“Plants like Cipla’s must comply with stringent standards called current good manufacturing practices. Cipla is eager to show that its advanced pharmaceutical ingredient plant is in line with those standards but it takes some doing to get a camera inside. Everyone who enters must wear a labcoat. They must cover their shoes and their hair…”

“The plant that turns compounds into pills has additional regulations. A quarantine section holds materials that the quality team has yet to approve. Everything here is carefully tracked, down to the cardboard boxes“.

Employees reviews for the company

On glassdoor.com, CIPLA receives an average score of 4.1/5.0 over 112 reviews. This is an impressive score, even if the sample size of 112 isn’t as big as that of other companies. On the employer review section of Indeed.com.in, the company also scores highly with an average score of 4/5 across 46 reviews.

Cipla Manufacturing Lines

Cipla Manufacturing Lines

Below, we track some of the comments by reviewers about the company, dividing their comments (as per glassdoor.com) into positives and negatives.

Positives:

  • “Good work culture, sophisticated equipment, caring for life.”
  • “Good promotions and yearly increments.”
  • “Good salary, good personal and professional growth.”
  • “CIPLA have a great management structure which is called a flat management system, which allows employees to work with freedom. CIPLA provides many training and skills improvement programs, which are very helpful for people. CIPLA moves very fast, which is also good news for its employees.”
  • “Quality people, ground level training, harnessing of talent pool from grass-level, career growth.”
  • “The best place to learn. Professional and good management, which encourages all staff with talent and interest to learn and work in a team.”
  • “Free lunch provided every day.”

Negatives:

  • “Long hours and work involves a lot of travelling.”
  • “No incentives and no proper rewards system.”
  • “No incentives for the employees.”
  • “Long working hours.”
  • “Unhealthy pressure. Reporting to so many people. Unhealthy way of handling HR.”
  • “Lack of clarity in some teams.”
  • “Cons: not that I know of!”
  • “Salary benefits are okay but employee has to work under pressure.”

Editor's Rating

Overal Score
The company gets a rating of 5 out of 5. It falls under the category, “trustworthy manufacturer that is highly recommended.” Its ratings online (generally reaching an average of around 4/5) have been excellent. Given that the firm isn’t one of the bigger brands, who rely on advertising to create a good impression, this is doubly impressive. What’s more, the takeover bid (alleged or not) by Teva suggests that this is a trustworthy firm which is going places.
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