Malvinder Singh, CEO of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, recently reiterated that his may be India’s first pharma company to launch a new chemical entity (NCE) globally, in 2011—its anti-malaria drug. If all goes well, this will be a significant outcome in innovative research for the domestic industry.
So far, the industry has leveraged its scientific talent for immense success in the generics and, to a lesser extent, contract research markets. In the post-product patent regime in the country, however, innovative research is where real potential for future growth of the sector lies. The key here is in investing at a far bigger scale than seen so far. The industry’s spend on R&D last year was $450 million, of which the share of NCEs was just one-fourth—minuscule fractions of the global figures. Given this, the chances of substantial success in this area seem low. A pity, more so because Indian firms are more likely to focus on discovering treatments for the long-neglected tropical diseases than global pharma.