India: An Emerging Knowledge Superpower - Pharmaceutical Executive


India: An Emerging Knowledge Superpower

Pharmaceutical Executive

Glenmark's first molecule was a compound for asthma and COPD called Oglemilast. It licensed it to Forest Laboratories in what has been the largest deal of its kind for an Indian company. The company expects to launch this drug globally in 2009. Glenmark also has developed a DPP-IV class molecule for diabetes called GRC8200. This molecule has just completed Phase I and has shown very positive results. Glenmark also is working on a compound for obesity called GR10389, and has three other compounds currently undergoing preclinical trials.

"In the long term, the objective is to bring our products to markets other than US, Europe, or Japan," says Saldanha. "So whatever comes out of our NCE pipeline, we look for partners to market it in the regulated markets and we either market it ourselves or keep co-marketing rights with whoever we decide to partner for the rest of the world."

Becoming a Global Biotech Powerhouse

Prashant Tewari
"The future of life sciences in India lays with biotechnology, as we have 200 research institutes, a very well trained English-speaking man power, and good biodiversity and a cluster of really good companies." As analyzed by Dr. Swati A. Piramal, Director-Strategic Alliances & Communications of Nicholas Piramal, Indian biotechnology has clearly gained global recognition and is being tracked for emerging investment opportunities. The rapidly disappearing appetite for risk capital in the United States and Europe has led to a sharp decline in the biotechnology sector in these regions, where survival lifelines are being provided by the lower cost research environs of the developing world.

The "biotech queen"

The Economist called her the "biotech queen," Business World said she is "one of the richest self-made women in India," and Nature Biotechnology portrayed her as the most influential person in biotechnology outside of the United States and Europe. The Managing Director of Biocon, Dr Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw pioneered biotechnology in India. "In the future I would like to be known as someone who was able to develop a blockbuster biotech drug with a 'made in India' label for the global market," she says. Biocon's strategy is to focus on this niche market, as 40 percent of drugs in the approval pipeline today come from the biotech segment, and it is estimated that by 2015, 60 percent of drugs will come from this industry. "Biotech offers a lot of opportunities," says Dr. Shaw. "The research engine of the conventional pharmaceutical companies is slowing down, and it is becoming difficult to find drugs for diseases therapies. Therefore, they have taken a different approach to drug discovery; they look at targets and then see how to chemically antagonize them."

The most important milestone so far at Biocon was acquiring Nobex, now its US partner in an insulin program. "We kept them going for two years through an oral insulin program, but it was not enough to keep them going forever," Dr. Shaw recalls. "Consequently, they gave us an opportunity to buy them out. This acquisition demonstrates that Biocon is very focused and committed to innovation for new drug development. We are going to launch our first anti-cancer drug, which we are developing with Cuban technology and that have demonstrated very good clinical data. We are hoping to get it in the Indian market in the next few months. We are also developing an interesting antibody product, which hopefully we can market in India in the next couple of months," she concludes.


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