The difficulties at Indian CROs (contract research organisations) created a drag on first quarter sales of instruments and research materials at US-based suppliers Waters and Sigma-Aldrich.
“Our instrument sales in India declined rather sharply due to the residual budgetary effects of a weaker rupee and deferments in capital spending at both generic drug makers and CROs”, Douglas Berthiaume, CEO of Waters, said.
Early signs from the second quarter are encouraging, Berthiaume said, and Waters expects to return to growth in India. Sales from CROs, in India and elsewhere, are now an important growth driver for Waters. “It's the CROs that grow more quickly than the average”, Berthiaume said.
Sigma-Aldrich grew in India in the quarter but was also hit by CRO weakness. “Business with some of the CROs is down because the CROs are under quite a bit of pressure, not just in India but also in China”, Rakesh Sachdev, CEO of Sigma-Aldrich, said in a quarterly conference call with investors.
Despite the dip in business from some CROs, Sigma-Aldrich still expects the Indian business to grow by 15 to 20 per cent this year. Growth is being driven by the shift in research from traditional to emerging regions.
“The challenge here really is…reduction of the R&D footprint that we're seeing. We're able to capture some of this business as it moves east and goes into CROs, but it's not a full replacement”, Franklin Wicks, president of research at Sigma-Aldrich, said last month.
To minimise the loss of sales from the offshoring and outsourcing of work by biopharma companies, Sigma-Aldrich has targeted CROs in China, India, and other emerging regions that now do research.
“I spent two weeks this month in Asia and I visited a number of the CROs and CMOs. There's really a lot of stuff that's happening. We are playing a very important game with them to support them as their business is growing”, Sachdev told investors in March.