Increasing numbers of chronic and debilitating conditions are now routinely treated with steroid and hormone medications. Yet, for the drugs to be effective they depend on active pharmaceutical
ingredients (APIs), the components responsible for the therapeutic effect. Without them, a pill is nothing more than a placebo.
As you would expect, API manufacturing is a sophisticated and complex process, traditionally the preserve of large pharmaceutical companies. However, as API patents began to expire in the 1990s, big pharma companies started to focus their attention on more profitable manufacturing for branded and patented products.
This development created a gap in the market for alternative specialist API manufacturers, especially in cost effective China and India, to step in. In 1995, spotting the opportunity for new challengers, the Indian entrepreneur Anil Satwani set up a small API production lab to meet the needs of domestic and multinational pharma companies.
Today, Symbiotec Pharmalab Ltd (Symbiotec) is India’s largest player in this highly specialised field, and among the top three in Asia. It is also USDA approved.
In 2013, Actis invested US$48m in Symbiotec. Building on its prior investments in the pharmaceutical industry with Paras, an over-thecounter drugs and personal care products company, and the emerging markets pharma business, Glenmark, Actis was able to bring not just
capital but healthcare knowledge.
From identifying technical experts to introducing well connected advisers able to approach major target clients, Actis has forged a true partnership with the management team.
Founder Anil Satwani remains actively involved in Symbiotec and in charge of day-to-day operations. His track record and vision combined with the dynamism of his leadership team were key factors in Actis’s decision to invest.
Looking ahead, Actis plans to build Symbiotec’s management capabilities and push forward the transformation of the company, keeping Symbiotec in excellent health.