Wednesday, 5 October 2011

2011 Promises a Booster Dose for Biotech Sector

A New Year blossoms ripe with possibilities for everyone, with the promise of progress towards newer and bigger goals. The dawn of 2011, and a new decade, holds immense promise for biotechnology and those who will benefit from it.

The past 12 months have been eventful for the Indian biotech sector. As the post-recession dust settled, several drivers helped spur growth. These included the disarray in Western markets where the woes of high drug development costs were compounded by a drying pipeline and patent expiration. On the positive side was the exciting action in India – innovative therapies, research and licensing alliances to leverage symbiotic advantages, and expansion into emerging markets – which shifted the center of growth.

By now, the Indian biotech sector has put in place a robust foundation for future growth. 2011 is the year in which the industry must capitalize on all opportunities by engaging the growth drivers of the new pharma world order. To do so, biotech companies must reduce the risk and cost of drug development, move into emerging markets, acquire advanced R&D capabilities, and diversify portfolios.

The trends in 2011 will be representative of this process. I believe that in the coming year, we will see increased mergers and acquisitions activity leading to consolidation – and more co-development and marketing partnerships – as companies adopt an accelerated growth strategy to enter new markets, grow capabilities and mitigate risks.

More biotech companies will choose integrated drug development to create a continuum of cost-effective solutions that optimize resource use, maximize results and enhance value. Biosimilars is another high-growth area. The global biosimilars market is expected to be worth $19.4 billion by 2014 and Indian players will strive to exploit the opportunities on offer.

Biocon is poised to make a difference through R&D, new products and in new markets in 2011. With a differentiated model that is risk-balanced and cost-competitive and motivated by our philosophy of affordable innovation, we have a portfolio and a pipeline that spans disease areas. Further, we have in our armory biosimilars and novel biologics, and we provide end-to-end drug discovery and development services.

In the coming year, we will target – with renewed vigor – our novel programs, IN-105 and T1h. Even as our research endeavors are paying off, our partnerships are helping us grow our presence around the world. The endeavor to cement more partnerships will continue as will our efforts to expand branded formulations in India.

The $350-million deal with global leader Pfizer was the highlight of 2010 for Biocon. The forward-looking strategic agreement for the worldwide commercialization of Biocon’s biosimilar insulin and insulin analog products validates our business model even as it helps us unlock our value. It also highlights the hot-button biotechnology topics of 2011 – biosimilars, synergetic partnerships and emerging markets. Going forward, we will embark on registration and marketing efforts in select emerging markets even as we give a thrust to our Malaysia expansion efforts. Our proposed biomanufacturing and R&D facility in Malaysia gives us an international location with strategic geographical proximity to India and we will work to take advantage of the opportunity.

The insulin segment is another area of interest for the biotech industry. With an estimated 246 million people affected by diabetes worldwide, the demand for insulin has the potential to touch Rs. 1000 crore in the next 2 years. Biocon’s insulin portfolio covers the analogue space and is set to propel us along a growth trajectory even as our promising oral insulin drug, IN-105, is undergoing Phase 3 clinical studies.
For all the potential that the industry and its leading players offer, the government too has a critical role to play in 2011. Through the Union Budget the government can signal its keenness in seeing India emerge as a global biotech leader in the near future. Incentivising R&D by providing a tax holiday for 5 years on any product developed in-house, zero duty all R&D and biomanufacturing equipment and a longer tax-free status for biotech SEZs with long gestation timelines are some steps that need to be taken without further delay.

Backing the capabilities of the Indian biotech sector with unwavering political will can ensure that the industry moves towards fulfilling its promise of delivering breakthrough and affordable therapeutics to millions of patients the world over in the New Year.

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