Apr 3, 2006

Biotechnology Opportunities for India

An Article by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Biotechnology has the potential of generating revenues of $5 billion for India; creating one million skilled jobs over the next five years through products and services. This can propel India into a significant position in the global biotech sweepstakes.
India’s position is assuming greater eminence as we continue building skills and capabilities, ranking among the top 10 biotech hubs in the world. The aim is to hit the top 5 by 2010 and the top 3 by 2015. The projected estimates envisage a market size of $5 billion by 2010 and $10 billion by 2015.
India offers significant advantages: clinical development; R&D; bio-manufacturing. The growing importance of vaccines, diagnostics and clinical trials place India in a pivotal position. It already boasts of the world’s largest vaccine production capacity. By 2010, it should have an opportunity to be a leading global bio-manufacturer of recombinant therapeutics and antibodies.
India can be positioned as the hub for differentiated medicine, offering affordable development bases for personalised medicines. Personalised therapies will demand extensive data from well differentiated patient populations, and India possesses the desired disease and patient profiles for this. Coupled with this is the need for a large number of diagnostics based on gene and non-gene based platforms. Personalised drugs also address the affordability factor for expensive therapies like cancer.
Pharmacogenomics is a rapidly growing segment providing a wealth of information pertaining to defective or missing genes which call for differentiated medicine — a new avenue for drug research. Gene regulation and other bio-algorithms will form the core of a new wave of diagnostics referred to as ‘theranostics’. Bioinformatics also offers attractive innovation and discovery opportunities in designing new drug molecules, mining novel bio markers, generating new pharmaco-genomic data and high value medical wisdom.
Custom research is a services model that most Indian biotech companies have opted for at start-up stage to earn early revenues to fund infrastructure and scientists’ salaries. This segment is expected to reach revenue levels exceeding $1 billion by 2010.
The opportunity for international bio-partnering is a fall-out of the trend of declining risk capital in the West, which seems to have dried up for companies engaged in early-stage discovery work. Indian companies would act as natural collaborators to reduce burn rates, optimise R&D spends and extend survival timelines. An ‘India Strategy’ offers an effective de-risked model for VCs who are in dire need for exit survival strategies, support for product development, and the most affordable and effective way to increase value.
There is a clear need for increased funds to encourage development. Regulatory processes also need to be streamlined (it currently involves multiple agencies), while the absence of large animal houses hinders product development. A poor patent infrastructure is also slowing innovation.
Given the right impetus however, the Indian biotechnology sector can find pride of place in the global sphere.[

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