Going further with the on-going series of interviews of women entrepreneurs, we introduce Punita Sharma Arora, today. Her Translumina Therapeutics is a leading India n stent manufacturing and marketing company, which was incorporated in 2010 by her and Mr. Gurmit Singh Chugh. Punita has given her 20 years to the healthcare sector. Her last assignment was with Boston Scientific from 1997-2004 as a leader in the field of non-surgical treatment of various diseases.
How relevant is the requirement of stents in this day and age?
In India, more than 11% population have Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). The major trigger for these diseases are diabetes and enhancement in stress levels for them. India, by the year 2020 will have the highest number of diabetic patients and will become the capital of CAD. As per the trend in last 3-4 years, has been seen more and more in the younger generation. The percentage of young people reported with the disease has increased. Leading to the Angioplasty rates to be increased by 20% each year, which makes the requirements of stents in this day very extremely relevant.
What inspired you to start Translumina Therapeutics?
I believe that every big initiative has its moment of awakening and the seeds of this idea were sown when I saw a few patients in government hospitals selling their houses to afford these costly Stents. We decided that we would come up with our own India-Centric solution, which would provide the best quality stents at an affordable cost.
It all started back in 2008 when two first time entrepreneurs were exploring their business acumen after a successful stint with various multinational companies. We decided to make a mark in the field of manufacturing of high-end medical devices in an atmosphere where hospitals and society preferred imported products and discriminated against Indian-made products.
The company created its first facility in 2010 in Dehradun and launched its flagship product YUKON Choice PC in 2011 amidst high hopes and skepticism among the cardiologists who sometimes doubted the vision of Translumina. YUKON Choice PC is a third generation Sirolimus-Eluting Stent System that combines the synergistic effect of surface modification and a biodegradable polymer to create optimum release kinetics for long-term safety and efficacy. The technology was developed in partnership with German heart center in Munich and was proven for high quality in one of the best designed clinical trials in the history of interventional cardiology.
Do you need training in your type of business? What kind and where?
Every businessman has to understand the basic needs and information about the type of business you’re aiming. Training and development is a vital part of the human resource development. At least you should know what kind of business or job you are going to pursue. If you decide to work in a pharmaceutical company, you should understand each and every minute detail regarding your brand and the human body. Also, you should understand the nature of the business from a doctor’s point of view. Both the fields are interdependent on each other. When you start working in the initial period, you will understand the nature of the business. This will broaden your way to understand how you have to watch your move and always think before you speak. You have to play very diplomatic and humble. Blunt attitude will never go with these kinds of fields.
How can technology lend support to this kind of work?
The technological advancements in this field can lead to better patient outcomes. Translumina has created smart partnerships around the world with various hospitals and technologically driven companies to access the best technologies and make them affordable by adding with them the advantage of low-cost manufacturing in India. It takes huge investments to first discover/create new technology and then prove them in large preclinical and clinical studies. We have limitations of doing these trials in India as we lack the infrastructure here. However, our partnership, with leading universities around the world and hospitals, enable us to do the best pre-clinical and clinical studies by engaging these institutions as partners which subsidizes the cost.
What is your support system?
There are many people, who have been supporting me, throughout my journey. I, of course, had my share of glass ceiling but that was in the field. I am fortunate enough to get an amazing set of men in my life – my father, two brothers and husband – who never grudged me my sky. They extended all succor to me in chasing my dreams. My business partner Gurmit Singh, MD, Translumina Therapeutics, is no different. But now, the time has changed a lot. In my company, women constitute 40 % of employees.
I am married for the last 15 years with Mr. Deepak Arora, who is Business Unit Head, Endocrinology for Eli Lilly. Together we have a son Dhruv who is 14-year-old and daughter Aadya, who is 7. They allowed me to focus on my work to grow in the industry.
What are your future plans?
Till now, our manufactured stents have offered relief to more than 300,000 patients in the World at an affordable cost. We continuously strive to bring more technologies, which shall ensure that poor patients are not denied access to best technologies of the world. Our target is to create a consortium of products and services with best standards of quality and healthcare delivery. The company is also working on Transcatheter Aortic and Tricuspid Valves for treating valvular disorders which will be supplied in the world market from India.