“Popularity of biosimilars will continue to rise, attracting more interest & investment”

Ravikrishna Chebolu, General Manager, India, West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. talks about company’s product offerings, latest activities, market trends, unique strategies and future outlook.

Ravikrishna Chebolu, General Manager, India, West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. With more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, Ravi Chebolu has previously worked at Laurus Labs, GVK Biosciences (now Aragen), Aizant Drug Solutions and Agilent Technologies. 
In an exclusive interaction with BioVoice News, Ravikrishna Chebolu, General Manager, India, West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. shares his views on the company’s product offerings, latest activities, market trends, unique strategies for expansion and future outlook.

BV LogoWhat are the company’s key objectives, goals, and long-standing presence in the Indian market?
West Pharmaceutical Services has been serving the Indian market since the 1990s and continue to expand our presence. Today, we have a commercial office in Hyderabad, a warehouse servicing customers across India, a manufacturing site in Sri City and a Digital Technology Centre (DTC) in Bengaluru.
In India, we hold a strong, reputable position in the healthcare industry, thanks to our strong portfolio of market-leading solutions, global legacy, and deep relationships with customer based on trust and reputation for quality.
Undergirding our strong presence and market leading solutions is our steadfast commitment and focus on our customers that we serve. Our local footprints allow us to better meet customers’ urgent demands. Our deep technical support and regulatory expertise is also pivotal in helping navigate the changing regulatory landscape across the Indian market as well as globally.
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What are your key product offerings and clients in India? Any new verticals or product offerings in offing and their expected impact?
Our key products in India include stoppers and seals for injectable packaging systems, syringe and cartridge components, containment and delivery systems. Take our star product, Ready Pack™ containment solution, as an example. As a one-package solution, it demonstrates container closure integrity waving worries of the incompatibility of individual components, further reducing the risk and speeding up time to market. This year, with the landmark collaboration with Corning, we extend it with the introduction of Corning® Valor® RTU Vials, providing more options to drug developers that supports the common aim of promoting the efficiency, reliability and safety of drug supply.
We are continuously improving the qualitative design of our packaging across our teams, taking our solutions a step further to cater to the evolving needs of our customers’ needs. We are are also developing innovative platforms to enable greater patient adherence and improve their overall experience. One such initiative is our Data Technology Centre that was established in 2019 and serves as a global hub for our team to use digital technologies and platforms to enhance product R&D and global operations.
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How do you see the life sciences industry evolving in India, and how is the company positioning itself to adapt to these changes? 
According to Grandview Research, globally, the biotechnology and biopharma sectors are growing rapidly, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 10.3% from 2023 to 2030. This is highly positive for the industry as this means that the popularity of biosimilars will continue to rise, with more interest and investment, thereby opening more opportunities like funding and developments for the sector.
For Indian companies serving Indian and regional customers and patients, it is even more crucial to ensure that India maintains its stronghold in generics and that we can keep up with the tightening regulations and quality standards.
West is witnessing the growth trajectory of India and that is why we have invested in a commercial office, manufacturing facility in India, and opened our first Digital Technology Centre over the last two decades. Cross-border regulations is perhaps one of the main challenges to overcome for the global market, especially for the large output of generics medicines that we bring to the rest of the world. Each market has their own standard guidelines to adhere to, so industry players looking to expand manufacturing processes will have to take time to understand respective market needs and regulations.
This may require resources, while from West’s experience, this is a necessary investment for any industry player to grow. At West, we take special care to meet and work with regulators to ensure that we are aligned with necessary guidelines based on the market.
“As a collective biomedical market, we are now moving out of siloed, traditional ways of working.”
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What role does innovation play in the company’s strategy, especially in the development of new technologies and solutions? 
Building on our 100 years’ expertise as a global leader in packaging components and delivery systems for injectable drugs and healthcare products, we take pride in offering end-to-end support to our customers. We consistently deliver high-quality, market-leading solutions in line with global regulatory standards.
Since our founding, we have had an enduring legacy and strategy of innovation in materials science, product development and manufacturing, to enhance our products and service offerings, and to create disruptive opportunities. This has allowed us to meet with the diverse and ever-changing needs and demands of our customers in India and beyond.
Building on the legacy and through consistent delivery of innovative and quality solutions and services, we have earned deep trust from our Indian customers over the years because of our deep knowledge in the latest, cutting-edge technologies.
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Any plans to Make in India or local tie-ups to set up manufacturing units?
Currently, we are focused on deepening our expertise and presence in India with the existing sites – the commercial, the warehouse, the operation site as well as the Digital Technology Centre. These hubs have been supporting in fulfilling our customers’ demands in India and globally and we continue to grow the capabilities. We are always open to opportunities with local partners to innovate and find ways to serve our customers when the chance arises.
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How much does India region contribute to the company’s overall revenue? What is your expected increase in this share during the coming years?
We have been very steady in our growth in India and over the years have established ourselves to be a clear market leader across the Asia Pacific region. Over the years, India’s contribution has been very encouraging and in the coming years, we are not only looking to maintain momentum but also grow more in the country. India will always be an important market for us to fuel our operations and we look forward to serving more customers around the region and across the globe in the future.
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What are your India plans for 2024? Looking ahead, what do you see as the key opportunities?
India is an indispensable market to West and we maintain strong commitment with reputable position here. We aim to bring and inspire more innovation, grow team and talents, give back to the local communities as we grow together with the customers, the industry, and the country.
With emerging treatments coupled with a rapidly changing society, it is imperative to understand evolving patient needs and find solutions that cater to them. The pandemic was a learning experience where most thriving businesses had to pivot strategies and find innovative solutions. The GMP Annex 1 revisions was another hint that regulators around the world are demanding increasing levels of quality. Drug developers are more in need of a trusted partner that is capable to support the contamination control strategy and help them navigate the new regulations successfully.
As a collective biomedical market, we are now moving out of siloed, traditional ways of working. Instead, there will arise more opportunities for collaboration and partnerships between different stakeholders to drive innovation and development. I believe we enjoy the opportunity to deliver more impactful solutions with our strong partnerships, like Daikyo and Corning, and in 2024, we are in a good position to take on effective collaboration with valued partners from around the world.

*This interview was first featured in the Jan-Feb 2024 issue of BioVoice eMagazine.