The world’s second largest drug-maker, Sanofi, will tap Indian talent for its drug discovery in the field of oncology and diabetes.

Sanofi’s head for India R&D, Raman Govindrajan, told Business Line that the new research and development set-up in Bangalore will use the partnership model in drug discovery.

“We have already floated an RFP seeking partners for these activities. This is the first such initiative by Sanofi in India. It has another R&D centre in Goa, which carries out work in the area of drug formulations.

Focus areas

Mr Govindarajan, who is also the member of Asia-Pacific R&D management for Sanofi, said oral cancers and head and neck cancers are common in South Asia and, hence, there is a need to work on these areas here.

These are also less researched areas, he pointed out. “The kind of R&D undertaken here is more to do with what the disease is all about. It is more to do with clinical research,” he said. During the previous year, Sanofi spent about $4.5 billion on R&D activities globally.

“We are looking at whom we can partner with. We don’t have our own labs. The partners we are looking at can be academics, biotech companies, consultants or pharma companies. We have to identify that there is an unmet medical need and what we can do in that space. We will look at partners who can address those problems,” he explained.

Several partners

Mr Govindarajan said the proposal will be developed in association with potential partners.

“Sometimes, we realise that one partner is not enough and we scout for more. After that, we go to the board for funding. Then the project goes through an evaluation process and if we are successful in terms of scientific content, relevance, medical needs and doability, only then is the money given,” he said.

He said Sanofi is a pioneer in this model and has had a long history of partnerships.

He said the partners should either have the expertise, knowledge base or skills or a facility.

Hence, there could be several partners who can work together in the area of drug discovery.

(This article was published on August 28, 2012)
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