Updated on 7 May 2013
The Indian biotech industry has done remarkably well so far. The inventiveness and efficiency of the industry has contributed immensely to the success and resilience of the Indian biotech sector, especially in the manufacturing and service segments. Despite heavy odds, including drought of financial resources, stiff competition among several domestic manufacturers, and having to walk the tight rope between doing innovative R&D and delivering affordability with quality, Indian firms have introduced a number of products in the market.
The last decade witnessed a spectacular growth of 24.18 percent for the sector, although due to the global economic meltdown there was a slump of 18.5 percent during 2011-12.
The biopharma segment continues to dominate.
India's expertise in the art and science of GMP for macromolecules has earned it the goodwill and respect of the international community. Because of our tried and tested strengths in vaccine development and manufacture, new alliances are beginning to emerge between the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Indian companies, public-funded institutions and global philanthropic institutions such as Malaria Vaccine Initiative, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Program for Appropriate Technologies in Health and the Wellcome Trust. The other noted strength of Indian biotech companies is carrying out contract services related to R&D, clinical trials and manufacturing.
Due to several reasons, India is fast becoming a hub for global clinical trials and this is likely to create numerous opportunities for a number of associated industries such as invitro diagnostics, education and data management. This will in turn have a cascading effect on the implementation of quality assurance measures and enforcement of ethical norms and good clinical practices.
The Indian agri-biotech segment has done spectacularly well with Bt cotton. A mere 50,000 hectares of area under the crop in 2002 increased to a massive 10.8 million hectares in 2012. Bt cotton is a clear winner and demonstrates how timely introduction of a new technology can break productivity barriers and help crop production in a sustainable manner. It also taught us lessons in regulatory issues and the need for better and clearer communication with the consumers and the public.
Nevertheless, the pall of uncertainty surrounding the agri-biotech segment today is mainly due to the collective failure of various stakeholders to resolve differences gracefully and dispassionately regarding the potential benefits and risks of GM crops, especially food crops. All of us-government, activists, the scientific and agricultural communities and industry are to blame for the current gridlock. In this atmosphere, investments into this segment are likely to decrease.