Destiny to new drug discovery
The growing realization of limited products available for market as a result of product patent law has compelled futuristic
Indian pharmaceutical companies to a paradigm shift from reverse engineering to new drug discovery. The government of India
also has encouraged innovation by providing fiscal incentives to R&D companies. In the recently presented budget, the benefit
of 150% weighted deduction on R&D expenditure was extended up to 2015. Additionally, according to recommendations made by
the Committee for Pharmaceutical Research and Development's Dr. R.A. Mashelkar, weighted deduction of 200% will be given to
any company, if they meet the following specified norms: a) Investment of 3% of annual sales or Rs.500 million (approx $1.2
million US) per annum (average of last 3 years), or whichever is higher, is spent on research; b) 200 scientists employed
at least for the period of one year; d) filed 10 patents resulting from research conducted in India; and d) the manufacturing
facility is approved by two reputed regulatory agencies. Furthermore, the Department of Science and Technology has devised
a number of schemes to encourage discovery research in the country. However, domestic companies are yet to invest in new drug
discovery because of financial limitations and risk of failure.
The research environment will definitely take positive course in due time, as urgency to innovate to remain an active player
has been mandated by Indian pharma, and as dedicated facilities exclusively for new drug discovery have been created. There
is already a trend of "reverse brain drain" conducive to a research environment and IPR protection and fiscal benefits offered
by India's government to facilitate the discovery of new drugs within the country. There is still a need to evolve novel biology
and chemistry, as almost all of discovery research is analogizing or patent bursting.
The future of new drug discovery in India is destined to witness a favorable shift in due course, with MNCs opting for alliances
and joint ventures with innovative Indian firms taking advantage of scientific talents, cost and time efficiency, government
policies, and a heterogeneous patient pool. Indian companies, which offer comprehensive integrated infrastructure from discovery
to development, will be most favored.
Dr. Aftab lakdawala is an expert on setting up laboratories geared toward new drug discovery. He was responsible for setting up Glenmark and Wockhardt's
facilities and now works with Avaant Pharmaceuticals.