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Clinical trial rules hurting research, says Ajay Piramal

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on April 04, 2013 Published on April 04, 2013

Ajay Piramal

BL05_P3_PIRAMAL_HEALTHCARE

Against the backdrop of a debate on the future of innovation in the country, Piramal Enterprises Chairman Ajay Piramal said clinical trial rules were hurting research in the country.

Referring to pharma industry concerns regarding clinical trial compensation and the delays in getting approval to conduct trials, he said the company had taken three of its trials to the US in the last three years, a proposition that is expensive for companies.

On the recent Supreme Court judgement dismissing the plea of Novartis on its blood-cancer drug Glivec, Piramal observed that a truly innovative product would get a patent. So it is not that the patent policy was weak, he added.

When asked if foreign companies would stop bringing new research into the country, as they view it as a market that does not protect innovation, Piramal said there was no new research taking place in the country.

About six years ago, it looked like foreign companies would locate research centres in India, but that is not happening, and they are locating them in China and Singapore, he said, because the local system here is not geared for innovation.

Piramal was speaking to the media at the launch of Lacto Calamine Reneu, an anti-ageing cream targeting the estimated Rs 300-crore local market. Hindustan Unilever’s Ponds, and P&G’s Olay are some the other players in the segment.

New product

The product comes after six years of research, including failures, said Vice-Chairperson Swati Piramal, detailing the work that went into the globally patent-protected product. Lacto Calamine is an Rs 80-crore brand and the company expects it to grow to about Rs 100 crore in three years. Lacto Calamine has been in the Piramal product-basket since the 1990s. The new Lacto Calamine Reneu is priced at Rs 799 for 50 gm. The new product comes from Piramal Enterprises’ OTC (over-the-counter) business. The company is investing in new products and brands and is interested in acquisitions, Ajay Piramal said, adding that “valuations were good if you are a seller, not a buyer.”

The company’s OTC division is also building its women’s health portfolio, including the I-pill (emergency contraceptive pill); I-Sure (ovulation strip) and now I-can pregnancy test kits, said Kedar Rajadnye, Chief Operating Officer of the company’s Consumer Products division.

Other investments

On whether the Group would apply for a banking licence, Ajay Piramal said it was still evaluating the prospects. Defence plans have taken a lesser priority “as the environment is quite challenging,” he added.

On the Group’s 11 per cent equity in Vodafone, he said the investment was on track and, as indicated earlier, they would exit this year or the next.

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Published on April 04, 2013
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