Biocon Chairman and Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw spoke to Times of India on the company's advancements in research and the future of its subsidiary companies. She also spoke of the regulatory uncertainty prevailing in the pharmaceutical sector. Excerpts:
Q) Earlier this year you received approvals for your second novel biologic Alzumab (anti-CD6 molecule). When will it be launched and what's the addressable market for the drug in India?
We will be launching Alzumab in August. Right now there are about 5 million psoriatic patients in India, but a very small percentage of them actually use biologics (a medicinal preparation created by a biological process). So obviously it's about market creation in India and about converting a lot of people from non-biologics to biologics. Hence, the market potential is huge, but the really big numbers would only kick-in from next fiscal.
Q) Are you exploring global licensing partnerships for the anti-CD6 molecule?
We are in discussions to partner with global companies for our anti-CD6 molecule asset. Hopefully, we will be able to conclude something this fiscal, if not then next fiscal.
Q) Do you expect to continue your Q1 revenue and profit run rate over the next three quarters?
That's the hope. Our Q1 performance is a reflection of the positive outcomes of the SBUs (strategic business units) based organization structure introduced last year, which has brought in greater efficiencies into the system and enabled robust growth across all businesses. We are confident that this will propel us further on to our goal of achieving US $1 billion in revenues by 2018.
Q) Biocon's board has given an in-principle approval for the merger of Clinigene with Syngene. Is this part of your planned IPO for Syngene in 2015?
Well it is in preparation for the IPO process. Syngene offers end-to-end solutions, which right now happens between the two entities. So from an operational efficiency point of view it is better to have the business under one organization.
Q) You have been critical of the government's policies towards the pharmaceutical industry. Why so?
The last five quarters have shown a decline in growth for the pharmaceutical industry because of regulatory uncertainty. Suddenly the government declares price control on drugs, brings a moratorium on clinical trials, so there has been no stability in the regulatory framework or regulatory system in India. It's ridiculous the way they (government) have gone about eroding value in this sector.
Besides, we are eroding the opportunity that the Indian pharmaceutical sector has especially when the rupee is so low. We should be increasing export of our products, but if the government is making it so tough to approve drugs, how can that be achieved?