MUMBAI: NovaQuest, the strategic investment arm of the world’s largest clinical trials firm, Quintiles Transnational Corp., is in talks with Indian drug manufacturing and research companies to partner them in product development and commercialization projects, Dennis Gillings, chairman and CEO of Quintiles, said.
“We are in talks with a few drug companies who have strong focus on research and development in India to partner with them financially in drug development projects,” Gillings said, adding that the Indian drug industry is now becoming a drug-research base in addition to being a manufacturing base.
The development is significant as the rising costs of discovering new drugs are straining the bottom lines of some domestic pharma companies. For instance, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, one of India’s largest drug exporters, spun off its novel chemical entity unit engaged in discovering new drug molecules as Perlecan Pharma Pvt. Ltd in 2005. ICICI Venture Funds and Citigroup Venture Capital International were roped in as investors in this company. Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd too spun off its drug discovery and research unit into a separate company, Sun Pharma Advanced Research Co., in 2006. This company will be separately listed and traded on stock exchanges, and will be free to approach other investors, its parent had said, justifying the rationale for the move. “This new trend in the country has prompted us to look at the possibilities of strategic investments for drug R&D as the company has been doing in the West,” said Gillings. NovaQuest is a major source of strategic and financial partnerships that help pharma and biotech firms move their product portfolios from early development stage through commercialization. Gillings declined to identify the Indian firms that Quintiles is in talks with, saying it is “too early” to give such details.