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Driven by ‘data’, AstraZeneca to build a healthy product pipeline

K Giriprakash Bengaluru | Updated on September 27, 2019 Published on September 27, 2019

The company is committed to launching some of these drugs in India as early as possible   -  istock.com/JK1991

Pharma major to tap $90-m investment from parent for an active NCD play

Armed with $90-million investment from the parent, pharma multinational AstraZeneca will be launching newer drugs across three therapeutic areas — cardiovascular, diabetes and respiratory for the Indian market.

Gagandeep Singh Bedi, MD, AstraZeneca India Pharma, told BusinessLine that the new investment will support scientific data generation to improve the standard of care of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India. The investment will be spread over a period of five years. He said some of the drugs introduced in the country are now able to prolong patients’ lives twice the number of months than before.

Focus on NCDs

He said AstraZeneca believes that ‘data’ will be one of the most important aspects in therapeutics and has identified areas in digital therapeutics that will contribute to better healthcare in NCDs. More initiatives are in the pipeline to ensure that AstraZeneca will continue to be one of the most effective contributors in the management of NCDs in India and the world.

“Our focus involves aligning with the government’s objectives. Non-communicable diseases can impact the working population and have a debilitating impact on the economic prosperity of a country,” he said.

While the company’s focus area has been on non-communicable disease and fits very well with India being an Emerging Market, the next emerging challenges are all around respiratory. “We have the products that we are very confident that we will be able to bring some of these drugs and can have a massive impact on the lives of the patients.”

Bedi said that the company has a significant traction with regard to the pipeline. “We have got one of the best pipelines in the industry today across the three therapeutic areas, whether it is cardiovascular, diabetes, or respiratory.” This portfolio is adding exponential life from 8-10 months to about 30 months.

Oncology medications

Bedi said AstraZeneca is committed to introduce some of these drugs to India as early as possible and because of the positive regulatory environment in the country, the company has been able to bring two of its innovative oncology medications. It includes a drug to treat non-small cell lung cancer. This is effective, especially for late stage patients, and was able to add about 10 months to their lives.

He said while non-small cell lung cancer had treatment options but there were limited options for small cell lung cancer. But with the introduction of immuno-oncology drugs, it addresses the need of small cell lung cancer. The same drug also works in stage 3B of the cancer which means intervention at a very early stage. Therefore, there is an exponential benefit of survival for the patients, he pointed out.

Bedi said that the basic science has progressed quite a bit as pharma majors are now working on genetics targeted therapies. “Patients are able to lead a quality life with diabetes and cardiac diseases and hopefully they will be able to do so with cancer as well. Hopefully, we will get to see that day sooner than later.” One of the main reasons for being able to introduce some of the drugs quite early was because of simplification of clinical trials, he pointed out.

As far as oral anti-platelet therapy is concerned, it has a clear mortality benefit attached to it. This drug was introduced in 2013 in the country and commands about 34 per cent market share and is the largest brand in its category. Bedi said.

Published on September 27, 2019
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