Sheetal Dandekar and her passion for the healthcare industry

Sheetal Dandekar, senior general manager, JB Pharma, and winner, Business Leader of the Year, shares about her work in the pharma business

15 May 2024 | By PrintWeek Team

Sheetal Dandekar, JB Pharma

You are a leading voice in the field. What would you say to someone starting out in pharma?
The pharmaceutical industry in India is the third-largest in the world in terms of volume and fourteenth in terms of value. This sector currently contributes to 1.72% of the country’s GDP. India is the largest provider of generic drugs globally and is known for its affordable vaccines and generic medications. Generic drugs, over-the-counter medications, bulk drugs, vaccines, contract research & manufacturing, biosimilars, and biologics are some of the major segments of the Indian pharma industry.

The healthcare industry is built on a strong purpose where the patient is prioritised over profit. To build a good quality healthcare business, we need someone who is compassionate for patients, customers, and employees.Women are naturally compassionate, able to multitask, hardworking, and balanced. This is why they make an apt fit for the healthcare business. They are able to drive profit with purpose. Industry is offering more opportunities for women in areas such as medicine & Pharmacy at all levels. There are many women in boardrooms at pharma and healthcare companies. I urge women to join the healthcare sector, do meaningful work, and make a significant impact on society.

Cilacar has acquired blockbuster status. Can you please describe the journey? 
In 2007, JB Pharma launched Cilacar, a brand of Cilnidipine, which is a Japanese-origin molecule. At the time of launch Cilacar lacked Indian evidence, which is why the brand faced acceptance issues from health care professionals in its initial years.The beauty of this molecule is that apart from controlling blood pressure, it provides kidney protection — which is a unique advantage. JB Pharma was the first company to focus on hypertension and early kidney protection using Cilacar. We started highlighting this through our communication, created awareness through continuous medical education and round-table meetings for healthcare professionals. We have also worked on Cilacar’s  quality.

It is only brand with a patented manufacturing technology, which ensures its superior efficacy.At JB Pharma, the patient always comes first for us. We organised Micral Camps to help healthcare providers detect the kidney health of hypertensive patients early on — the camp numbers exceeded one lakh. Cilacar has emerged as a strong reno-protective, anti-hypertensive brand among healthcare providers because visible improvement has been observed in kidney health.One of the gaps in hypertension management is the accurate measurement of blood pressure. To create awareness and educate patients, we have initiated ‘BP Right Karo.’ Through this campaign, we reached out to millions of people and educated them on the correct way to measure their blood pressure. With all of these efforts, Cilacar is a Rs 650-cr+ brand that has the trust of millions of Indian hypertensive patients.

We were intrigued by the patient-friendly calendar pack for hypertension medicine (Cilacar-T). What was the consumer response to the calendar?
A majority of the elderly population suffers from chronic diseases, so they are prescribed multiple medicines. There are high chances that they may forget to take their medicine which increases the risks.To enhance patient-drug adherence, JB Pharma has, for the first time, come up with a patient-friendly calendar pack for Cilacar-T, mentioning the name of the weekday on the pack. This ensures that patients don’t miss out on the Cilacar-T daily tablet. We have received a very encouraging response from patients and healthcare providers for Cilacar-T. This calendar pack saves time for the healthcare providers, because they don’t need to explain the drug dosage, and it serves as a reminder for patients to take their medicines.

How do pharma companies drive innovation in a disrupted world?
In the past decade, disruptive innovation has taken its course. The pharmaceutical industry has undergone a rapid evolution in technologies and trends. One of the most impactful changes to the life-science industry is a consumer-focused, value-based care system. Digital technology has enabled patient-centricity not just in the pharmaceutical industry but also in the healthcare industry. Thanks to smartphones and the Internet, today, patients are better informed, better connected, and expect to receive personalised assistance.

The pharmaceutical industry is leveraging digitalisation in manufacturing, telemedicine, maintaining electronic health records, e-pharmacy, and creating interactive content for healthcare providers. The future of the pharmaceutical industry will intrinsically be linked to data and supercomputing. Innovations in AI and machine-learning programs can read, sort, and analyse vast quantities of data, helping facilitate anything from genomic research and biotechnology to pharmaceutical research and development.