$150-200 million this year alone.
Phase I trials are conducted on a small group of healthy volunteers to estimate the safety and tolerability of a new molecule under investigation, while Phase II is a therapeutic exploratory trial, conducted on a larger pool of people to evaluate the efficacy of the drug and the common short-term side effects and risks associated. An important goal for Phase II trials is to determine the dose and regimen for Phase III trials.
The primary objective of phase III trials is to confirm the therapeutic benefit of a drug. Successful conduct of these trials lead to marketing approvals. Phase IV trials are required to assess the safety of such drug in the post-market scenario.
While it takes over 10-12 years to develop a new drug before it can be marketed, clinical development — the most critical process in new drug development — takes around five to six years.
According to Suneela Thatte, president, Indian Society for Clinical Research, an industry body, “In India, we do not have adequate research centres who are experts in conducting Phase I trials for new molecules. Moreover, ethics and quality of trials conducted abroad would be much better.” According to her, even though costs of overseas trials may be higher, the time to get results would shorten.
While Phase I trials are completed in 4-8 weeks in the US and Europe, in India, historically, it takes 16 weeks to complete the first phase. “Currently, due to ambiguity in rules governing clinical trials in the country, there is no specific timelines available,” added Thatte.
“For new entities developed in India and to be marketed in India, all phases from Phase I to Phase IV may not be mandatorily required to be conducted in India,” said a health ministry source. He added that Phase I and Phase II trials may be conducted outside India and based on that data generated, Phase III trials should be conducted in India to confirm the safety and efficacy of the drug.
Pharma companies, CROs and doctors are optimistic that this regulatory initiative would create a secure environment for developing new medicines