India: An Emerging Knowledge Superpower - Pharmaceutical Executive


India: An Emerging Knowledge Superpower

Pharmaceutical Executive

Malvinder Mohan Singh, CEO & MD, Ranbaxy
"This is a significant increase and shows their commitment to move in a new direction," says Dilip Shah, General Secretary of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance. "I see this trend towards innovation to go further. India will soon emerge as a hub for pharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing," adds Dr. Mashelkar.

Innovative skills

"In 1993, when I was President of the Indian Pharmaceutical Congress in Bangalore, I said to my colleagues, 'This feast will not last forever,'" remembers Dr. Anji Reddy, Chairman of Dr. Reddy's Laboratories. "There will be a patent law at some point. And you should get ready for it, or you will disappear." That is why the company started building its R&D structure as soon as 1993. Dr. Reddy recalls: "Back then, nobody wanted to come to India, so I had to do it by myself." Nowadays, Dr. Reddy's invests 12 percent of its revenues in R&D. "We are taking this step because if we just rely on our capability to produce cheaper products, we will always remain a pygmy in the pharmaceutical world. If you take a look at the statistics, the twenty-fifth research-based pharmaceutical company is still bigger than the number-one generics firm. I have always believed that India has innovative skills, which are second to none in the world," says Dr. Reddy.

Torrent R&D Facility
The company is mainly into metabolic disorders, such as obesity and cardiovascular diseases. From the start, its main motivation has been to make affordable drugs so that everyone can have access to medicines. Lately, since Dr. Reddy's has entered the American and European markets, the company has also become deeply enthusiastic about finding an answer to unmet medical needs, such as atherosclerosis. Another example that has attracted enthusiasm and controversy is the Polypill (currently in clinical trials), for cardiovascular diseases.

"It is not innovation per se but it is incremental innovation," explains G V Prasad, CEO of Dr. Reddy's Laboratories. "It is also a market focused on innovation in the sense that the Polypill will respond to the needs of the vast majority of cardiovascular patients in a specific market place, the developing world. A company like Dr. Reddy's—with deep skills in active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), in formulation, and in marketing—is combining its expertise in this area to solve a significant problem in the developing world. It is not only a business opportunity; it is a breakthrough to make an impact on society. We are meeting an unmet medical need." To Dr. Reddy, the main advantage that India has to offer in this field is that Indian scientists are "hungry for glory." "They want to show the world what they are capable of doing," he says.

Innovation is also critical to one of the youngest CEO in the world, Malvinder Mohan Singh, CEO of worldwide generic company Ranbaxy. "It is clearly where we are heading. But this is a long-term game. It is not that you discover something today and tomorrow you have the results. We have close to 1,100 people in R&D, 300 of which hold PhDs, and we spend a massive amount of money in this area. We spent over a hundred million dollars last year. We are strongly committed to R&D."


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