Mobor, Goa: Eyeing the burgeoning global generic drugs market, Reliance Pharmaceuticals Ltd, an offshoot of Reliance Life Sciences Ltd, the biotechnology and health-care arm of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance group, is setting up an over Rs1,000 crore generic drug manufacturing plant at Jamnagar in Gujarat.
The new plant, which will be in compliance with US and European drug quality regulations, would have a capacity of “several hundred tonnes” of capsules, tablets and liquid oral drugs.
“Construction at the Jamnagar site will start by the end of the year and the actual investment in the project is yet to be worked out,” said Lalit Kumar, president and CEO, Reliance Pharmaceuticals.
The company was formed just six months ago as a 100% subsidiary of Reliance Life Sciences, currently a leading player in biopharmaceuticals and plant and industry biotechnology. It is also one of the first movers in cell sciences research in the country and has already launched a dozen cell-based medical diagnostics products in the local market.
“We will also look at the opportunities in contract manufacturing of APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) as well as formulations for global clients as the capacity that we are building at the Jamnagar facility is huge,” said Kumar.
Kumar spoke to Mint on the sidelines of a conference on ‘Opportunities in Life Sciences Molecules’, organized by Frost & Sullivan, a research firm.
“We will be focusing on all therapeutic segments as a large number of products will be going off-patent in the next couple of years,” said Kumar.
The global generics market is currently pegged at $52 billion (Rs2.13 lakh crore), and India is expected to be a key player because of cost advantages and technology capabilities. By 2010, there will be more than 120 molecules—most of them currently blockbuster drugs of multinational companies—that will be free from patent protection and up for grabs by generics companies.
Since the new pharma plant is coming up at the special economic zone proposed by Reliance in Jamnagar, most of its products are likely to be targeted at overseas markets.
Reliance wants to become one of the largest players from India in the global generics business, said Kumar. All top drug makers from India, such as Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd, Cipla Ltd, Wockhardt Ltd and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, are focusing on the global generics market, especially in the US and Europe.
Reliance's proposed entry to the generic drug market is going to create tough competition to the traditional Indian players in both domestic as well as international markets.
Industry analysts feel that Reliance Pharma is yet another big Indian drug maker in the making considering the group’s financial muscle and the manufacturing capabilities that the company is currently creating. Betting big on the biotechnology-based drugs, Reliance Life has already set up three large-capacity biopharmaceutical plants in Mumbai.
It recently took over a UK-based biotech start-up, Genemedics Ltd. To gain access to global technologies in the biopharmaceuticals and diagnostics space, it also recently invested in a US-based private equity firm, MPM Capital, which has investments in 80-odd biotech start-ups.