Despite efforts, new molecules elude Indian pharma

Jun 02 2014, 01:34 IST
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At least four of Glenmark’s experimental drugs were returned or abandoned by partners, according HSBC analysts. At least four of Glenmark’s experimental drugs were returned or abandoned by partners, according HSBC analysts.
SummaryIndian pharma firms have tried for more than a decade now to develop new molecules...

reach out to their older peers. Funds play an important part. “Even the biggest balance sheet in the Indian pharmaceutical industry today cannot support a robust NCE programme,” Murali Nair, partner, EY, observes. He adds that globally too, the ratio of the success of developing a marketable drug from a promising molecule is very low. “Indian companies are developing only a handful of molecules,” he points out.

Glenmark gets a steady flow of milestone-based payments from various out-licensing agreements it has signed with drug majors. JP Morgan analysts peg the revenues at about $232 million till date.

Glen Saldanha, CMD, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, says his firm has moved up the innovation and drug discovery value chain. “For NCEs, we are looking at out-licensing at the phase 2 stage while for NBEs, we are looking at out-licensing opportunities in the pre-clinical phase itself,” Saldanha told FE. He added that the firm has three R&D facilities, in India, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, employing over 500 scientists dedicated primarily to drug discovery and not just generics research.

“Indian companies can manage development by themselves up to Phase – I or sometimes Phase – II of clinical trials. After that point, you need to conduct global studies, for which a partner is essential,” said Alok Dalal, pharma sector analyst with Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

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