Note for the Ministry of Science and Technology :

21 August 2014

Pharma companies in India have done immensely well, and have gained a place in the world markets in the generics space for the quality of drugs produced, and the affordability they have created for patients world-wide. This is a matter of pride for the companies and the country.

At the same time, prices of new and more effective drugs that are under patent, continue to rise as the cost of R&D soars in the traditional markets which innovate new drugs (USA, Western Europe & Japan).

India has a unique place due the quality of scientific manpower (either found in the country or from Indian diaspora that may choose to return and work at home), the lower costs of operations, and the presence of a huge patient pool for conduct of clinical trials. This can lead to a paradigm shift in the cost of innovation, should Indian companies succeed in the discovery and development of new drugs for the large unmet needs within the country and across the world.

If, going forward, pharma companies have to continue to create value, and we have to create new drugs for patients in India at affordable costs, we need to seriously focus on two areas:

1. Discovery of new drugs
2. Clinical development of these drugs in India

New drugs are discovered by scientific organizations (called biotechs in industry parlance), investing in cutting edge areas of biology and medicinal chemistry, in highly risky projects that more often fail than succeed.

Indian biotechs operate in a highly competitive environment, with well-funded companies in the West, operating in a much more conducive environment than obtaining in India (world-class Universities, enormous talent pool, access to risk-seeking capital and a very competent and supportive regulatory environment – none of which unfortunately exist in India).

In this space, there are a few companies that have been operating and creating successes in their own way. In the last few years, a few of these companies have developed a very interesting portfolio of drug candidates and seek partners for clinical development.

India has made a reputation for itself as a competent provider of Services, but rarely as a “Product development” oriented country. To that extent, Pharmaceutical companies in the West have often visited us with the narrow premise of seeking low-cost service providers, but rarely seeking innovation of the kind that the Indian biotech companies referred to above offer.

Against this backdrop, the proposed event in February 2015 that BioAsia (under the aegis of FABA) seeks to organize has chosen to show-case the innovative drug pipeline that is being developed in the country. The support of the Minsitry to this event will not only showcase the intent of the country in supporting product innovation in the pharma industry, but also signal to the world that they can visit us for seeking innovative products for markets world-wide. Any policy shift that the Ministry can announce that will support clinical operations in India under a transparant, predictable regime with time-bound decisions, will also go a long way in capturing the imagination of the pharma industry world-wide.


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