Signet is India’s largest excipient company with extensive activities extending to Bangladesh and the Middle East.

Harish Shah

MANAGING DIRECTOR, SIGNET

October 19, 2017

Signet reached its 30th anniversary last year and is India’s largest excipient company. How prominent is the company in the market today?

Signet experienced 20% to 25% growth each year from 2007 to 2015 but is currently posting growth at 13% to 15%. For FY 2016 to 2017, it has achieved a turnover of Rs.1150 cr US$177 million.  In the last three years, the market has plateaued somewhat because the Indian pharmaceutical industry has been under duress. As a result, exports to the U.S. market, the most significant in the world, have been relatively flat in the last two years. Since we do not manufacture any products but instead move in tandem with the formulation industry, our growth has been impacted. Despite this setback, we have managed to beat the trend through organic growth and consistently acquiring new partners. We view this as a temporary lull because there is no structural defect in the market. India continues to be a leading player in the formulation industry and Signet is very fortunate to have little global competition in this space. India has now reached about 600 FDA-approved plants; there is no other country with this kind of infrastructure in place. Aside from the number of plants, India has the right mindset, training and experience to assist the industry in maturing and maintaining FDA standards.

 Signet imports excipients from its worldwide partners. Could you elaborate on the company’s supply chain and partnerships? 

Unlike other countries that have a few multinational companies dominating the pharmaceutical space, India has a fragmented market with hundreds of companies spread all over the country. As the industry has spread geographically, Signet’s role has become more and more relevant. Due to the extensive process of commercializing new pharmaceutical products, Signet has well-defined agreements with all of its partners, assuring long-term commitment and guaranteed progress towards successful business. We have a stellar track record and have never lost any of our current 29 partners.

Signet supplies excipients in various dosage forms. Are there any particular trends in demand in the Indian market? 

In sustained-release dosage, Matrix tablets are the most common form and preferred over coatings because of their similar function with reduced process time. Oral dosage forms continue to be most common, with strong trends developing for Osmotic Drug Delivery System technology (ODDS). This technology is a specialized coating that sustains the release of a drug over a 24-hour period and is now beginning to be offered by more companies. Other trending dosage forms are nasal and inhalation. Sometimes grouped together, these forms are gaining growth in the industry. Whilst oral delivery systems are very common, injectables have also gained a lot of popularity. Growth is also occurring in topical delivery systems, such as derma and transdermals, with more companies now offering them than before. Furthermore, a new trend is seen in biodegradable and noninvasive patches in an effort to eliminate silicone usage.

How extensive is Signet’s involvement in the biotechnology space?

 Signet has a significant presence in the biotechnology space and a broad project range for downstream processing, such as stabilizing drugs after purification. There is a growing presence of research biotechs in Indian cities such as Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune and there is now a growing number of biotech divisions within pharmaceutical companies. Signet also works with nutritional companies by providing many raw materials for nutritional products such as fillers, gummies and minerals that increase bioavailability. 

The global pharmaceutical excipients market is projected to reach USD 8.1 billion in 2021. Does Signet plan to increase its international presence accordingly?

 Signet is one of the largest excipient suppliers to all Bangladeshi and Middle Eastern companies. We are currently very active in the Middle Eastern markets, as they are widely considered extension markets to India. We are also very active in Bangladesh; it’s pharmaceutical market is similar to India’s 20 years ago and is doing very well. It is merely a matter of time before it reaches a substantial size. 

What are the key objectives for Signet going forward?

Signet’s growth will be mainly organic and we have no plans to alter our business model. We see a great future and a lot of potential in this business and will stick to our core competence and expertise.

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