Drugmakers look to replicate success story of generics in innovative drugs

Rutam V Vora | | | Updated on: Nov 19, 2021
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But the government needs to address several challenges, say experts

The Indian pharmaceuticals industry is geared up to replicate its generics success in the area of innovative drugs and new molecule development.

But this would require the government to address challenges such as a constrained innovation ecosystem, including funding limitations, complex regulatory systems and absence of robust collaboration between industry and academia, to foster research and development.

This was the core thought at a CEO panel attended by top-brass of six Indian drugmakers at the Global Innovation Summit 2021, organised by the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA).

“As the leader in generics space, we have reached thus far. Can we grow further with the same operations? No. Only with the innovation we can grow further and succeed to achieve the dream of becoming an industry of $130 billion by 2030,” said Pankaj Patel, Chairman of Cadila Healthcare Limited (Zydus Cadila). Dilip Shanghvi of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries; Satish Reddy, Chairman, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories; Glenn Saldanha of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals; Nilesh Gupta of Lupin; Samina Hamied from Cipla; and Christopher Viehbacher, founding partner at Gurnet Point Capital, showcased emerging prospects in the areas of innovative biologicals and new molecules in a variety of therapeutic areas.

Shanghvi stated that the opportunity in innovation and new drug development is enormous and once successful, these products “will create a virtuous cycle and increase realisations for all companies. I look forward to creating an environment where we not only grow but we also become relevant in innovating in India”, he said.

Challenges ahead

The CEOs pointed to challenges ahead in terms of a robust innovation ecosystem in India. These included securing funding for innovation and easing the complex regulatory systems.

In order to foster innovation, an idea of creating biotech hubs was mooted as seen in other global markets, to which Glenmark’s Saldanha stressed the need for an initial impetus from the government in terms of creating the infrastructure for the innovation hubs.

The industry players called for a sense of urgency at all levels as was observed during the pandemic, when regulatory process was not just faster, but also played a role of handholding in developing crucial medicines, equipment and testing kits.

“Can that be a permanent feature? Can there be a better handholding in the process? Companies in India have a lot of capabilities but the problem lies in systems delaying things,” said Pankaj Patel.

Published on November 20, 2021

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