Can we succeed at drug discovery?
Written by The Economic Times   
Wednesday, 12 February 2003

The Economic Times

There are two facets of basic research in the pharma industry: new drug discovery and development research and developing new, cost-effective production processes for manufacture of new drugs.

Indian pharma companies have already excelled in process innovation and technology and are able to produce practically all the drugs needed for health care programmes, at affordable prices.

Indian pharma companies have set up state-of-the-art NDDR centres. In the short time these centres have been in existence, they have a number of new drugs in the pipe-line, many of which without doubt  will be approved and marketed in due course.

A new drug introduction by the best companies in the world takes 10-15 years and the same will happen for the drugs discovered by Indian pharma companies.

The fact that the candidate drugs from Indian companies have attracted world attention and some have been licensed by multinational companies, which include the antidiabetic molecules licensed by Novo (Denmark) from Dr Reddy’s Lab and the BPH from Ranbaxy licensed to Schwartz (Germany) with downright payments and royalty arrangements, is enough of a ‘proof of the concept’ that Indian companies can undertake basic NDDR.

Developing new drug delivery systems is another important basic research area, which helps to make more effective use of new drugs. And Indian pharma companies are doing well in this area also; Ranbaxy has developed a much more patient-compliant once a day dosage of ciprofloxacin, which was licensed to Bayer (Germany).

Indian pharma companies’ resource base is still very small as compared to MNCs, with whom they have to compete. Indian companies therefore should not copy the western models but develop their own models suitable to our financial resources, with a balance between effort directed to our neglected disease conditions, on which MNC would not work, and the global compulsions because of commercial reasons.

There is need for much greater academia involvement, especially in the areas of molecular biology, which will form an important part of future NDDR.

Nitya Nand, Ex-Director, Central Drug Research Instt
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