Career: Assistant professor at the Federal Institute of Technology; Ciba-Geigy AG; joined BI in 1992
Education: Medicine from University of Freiburg, Germany; Mathematics from Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
Q. Where does India lie in BI’s global strategy?
The US, Japan and Germany are the biggest markets for BI [one of the 20 leading pharmaceutical companies in the world]. India is one of the emerging markets where we entered in 2003. Many MNCs have a stronger presence than us, but it is crucial for us to make our presence felt and to make sure that it is considered in our plans. Our philosophy and approach is to keep building the business and understand the market. We have about 500 employees there. Growth has been impressive but we have a low base.
Q. How different is the Indian market?
India is a price-sensitive market and we aware of that. When we look at marketing a product, we are looking for an India-friendly pricing. That is a conscious decision and we want to make sure that we are pricing products that are accessible to local patients. We have a large investment in R&D and that should be rewarded. But the ability to pay in India is not the same as in other markets.
Q. Last year was challenging for BI with net sales down to €14.065 billion from €16.691 billion in 2012. But the share of R&D expenditure has increased to 19.5 percent from 19 percent. How do you balance your expenses to make short-term and long-term goals meet?
[The] good thing is that BI is not publicly held. So we invest when we believe it is the best time to. We never bring R&D down to prop up our profitability. That is different from publicly-listed companies and it works well.
(This story appears in the 13 June, 2014 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)