Updated on 15 January 2013
How can India’s drying drug pipeline be revived?
It is estimated that about 40-to-60 percent of the Indian population still doesn't have access to vital life saving drugs. The looming threat of increased mortality rate due to various diseases, globally in general and developing nations in particular, has become a matter of concern to both the companies as well as policymakers. But, as there is a molecule deficit due to reasons ranging from strict regulatory agencies, efficiency of drugs, and global austerity measures, the question now is what can be the quick fix solution that can bring back hope?
Currently, many players are evolving their business models to incorporate more innovations, not only through in house R&D but also through evolving newer delivery systems, novel formulations, research collaborations, and business acquisitions. However, to build a sustainable ecosystem, the full breadth of capabilities required for innovation will need to be developed locally. According to Dr Rajesh Jain, joint managing director, Panacea Biotec, "With increased global demand and shrinking R&D pipelines, I believe that we need to increase the productivity. I still feel that generics are a reality and we have to adjust to that and work with the government to get quality generics."
Leveraging existing treasure
One may be puzzled that, if it really is the generics or the molecules that are important at this point of time? However, industry experts point out that, drug research has the inter-disciplinary and rich treasure of existing information on the already known drugs which cannot be ignored or sidelined.
Agrees Dr Nitya Anand, former director, Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), believes that the focus has to be on the improvement of existing drugs into a new ones. "It has been once again proved that Indian drugs are full of quality parameters. The known uses of drugs must be taken up on a high scale in India too. The essential requirement now is a national repository having the collection of compounds and accurate screening processes (testing of compounds will help in long run)," said Dr Anand.
Dr Mahesh Patel, director, drug discovery, Wockhardt, is of the opinion that a balance has to maintained between the generics and the new molecules. Dr Patel feels that while generics are the best way to tackle the present situation yet the focus must also be on building the future pipeline of innovative drugs. "Apart from comparisons and having generic focus, leveraging existing drugs must also focus on stimulating on innovative drugs. Wockhardt is doing its bid and investments continue into various such projects."