Indian Pharma India’s drug retail industry continued its healthy growth recording 13.3% higher sales in February over the same month last year. Domestic Pharma firm Cipla continues to hold the top position in sales, as per data compiled by research firm ORG IMS.

Growth in February marks the fourth straight month of higher drug sales in the country after the drug retail market contracted for the first time in many years by 1.2% in October 2008. This had surprised industry analysts as demand for medicines is need-based and considered immune to economic slowdown which has hit most sectors.

ImageDrugs worth Rs 2,853 crore were sold in the retail market in February as per ORG IMS, which tracks the sales figures of stockists and not the actual sales of drugs sold by over five lakh chemists across the country. It also excludes sales to hospitals and institutes which is estimated to be worth Rs 7,000 crore annually.

The top 10 rankings of firms by drug sales in the highly fragmented domestic retail market remained unchanged with Cipla on top with 5.55%, followed by Ranbaxy (4.84%) and GlaxoSmithKline (4.42%). Fourth ranked Piramal Healthcare (27%) registered the highest monthly growth among the top 20 companies during the month.

Pfizer’s cough syrup Corex remains the most sold drug in the country, raking in Rs 14.7 crore for the company in February. Among drug segments, cardiovascular and systemic anti-infective segments gained the most with double-digit growth.

For the 12-month period ended February, the top order was the same, with numero uno Cipla (5.31%) followed by Ranbaxy (5.01%) and GlaxoSmithKline (4.31%). The trailing 12-month period is considered a better time horizon to compare the sales performance of companies as seasonal factors can affect the monthly rankings.

World’s largest drugmaker Pfizer and French major Sanofi Aventis, who have announced acquisition of global rivals Wyeth and Schering Plough respectively are also likely to break into the top 10 companies when they complete their transactions.

Pfizer India, is currently ranked 13th with 2.21% market share while Wyeth holds 0.81% share in India. Similarly, Sanofi Aventis India (2.25%) will improve from its current 12th position after it combines its sales with 35th ranked Schering Plough which has market share of 0.79% in India.