For UK companies working in the biopharma sector, India does not appear to offer any obvious benefits for collaboration. After all, the country has long been associated as a generic and API market and has no recognition as a region where drug discovery can flourish.
In the past there has been little motivation or no interest from the indigenous India pharma and biotech industry to innovative, however this looks to be slowly changing. There are around 15 to 20 companies in India that are doing their own drug discovery either in-house or through a separate entity of the parent pharmaceutical company.
The fear of IP infringement has hindered India’s push towards developing intellectual property, however with the signing up to TRIPP’s and contractual agreements that can be put in place,there appears to be no significant barrier to UK companies concerned about placing or developing their intellectual property in India. A level of reassurance must come from the large number of multinational pharmaceutical companies that are placing their drug discovery work with Indian research companies.
The opportunity for UK companies to partner with Indian pharma and contract research organisations that have their own drug development programmes has widened. As an example, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals a major Indian pharma company probably leads the way in with its recent success of in-licensing two molecules from a Canadian company, developing these over a few years and out-licensing them to Sanofi-Aventis.
Whilst the number of life science companies in India is not comparable to that of the USA, Europe or Japan some of these players are open to collaboration with UK biopharma companies. There are also start up life science companies being set up around India as well as non-life science sector companies interested in entering into the healthcare market.
Other areas of research in Indian life sciences include stem cell research, bioinformatics,bio-manufacturing – all offer opportunities for collaboration. Crucially the partnering company must be able to offer technology of value so that the Indian partner can use it to scale up their operation or offer value sooner rather than later.
Working in India requires commitment and patiences just like any another market. The recent disappointing economic growth rate, the challenging country’s infrastructure are however not reasons to prejudge the opportunities that are developing in the life science sector.
For a more detailed report on the Indian biopharmaceutical market contact Anil Vaidya, UKTI Life Science Specialist.