New Delhi: Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is in the process of finalizing the release plans for eight of their generic medicines which use biotechnology. They plan to release one each in the market every year. This development clearly poses a challenge for companies such as Roche Holding NV and Amgen Inc.
The company plans to double its staffing in the biotech division and bring up numbers to a substantial 340 over the next two years. Plans also include spending close to $20 million (Rs80 crore) to step up their production capacity.
According to GV Prasad, CEO, “Bulk of the drugs coming off patent in the future will be biotech drugs and in the coming years we will see Biologics playing an even important role in therapy.”
Meanwhile pharma companies Ranbaxy and Wockhardt are developing the capability to produce more complex drugs, known as “biologics”, for which sales are growing at 14 times the pace of traditional chemical compounds and are among their most expensive prescriptions.
Reddy’s Labs have been selling Reditux, a version of Basel, Switzerland-based Roche’s rituximab cancer medicine and are charging nearly 50% less than the brand name product, which Roche sells as Rituxan.
This followed the 2001 release of Grafeel, Reddy’s version of Neupogen, a drug to boost white blood-cell production made by Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen, the world’s biggest biotechnology company.
Reddy’s CEO declined to name the biotech products in development, saying only that they include so-called monoclonal antibodies used to treat cancer, as well as arthritis medicines that work by inhibiting an immune system protein called tumor necrosis factor would be released soon.
With the company’s total sales incorporating nearly 5% from biotech drugs which use cellular material to make medicines, is likely to contribute as much as 30% to revenue within a decade as the company starts selling Reditux outside India and patents on other biologics expire, allowing Reddy’s to copy them.
Future plans definitely include global markets, especially US and Europe, biotech seems to be the way for the company.