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Human trials on Orchid's new anti-inflammatory drug in June

Our Bureau

Chennai , Jan. 19

A DRUG developed by Orchid Chemicals to combat inflammation is likely to be put through clinical trials on humans in Europe by June this year, said Mr K. Raghavendra Rao, Managing Director.

Mr Rao said the anti-inflammatory drug was developed by Orchid's team of scientists and was being tested on animals in India. The animal testing phase is meant to measure the toxicity of the drug.

Orchid already has a new drug in the human trials stage. An anti-diabetes drug developed originally by Orchid's US-based research partner, Bexel Pharmaceuticals, is going through a round of human trials in Europe. The current phase of trials (first phase) there would end in April this year.

Drugs discovered by Indian companies have often been sent overseas for human trials.

Industry hands said low credibility attached to trial data generated in India made it necessary to send the drugs abroad for trials.

Mr Rao said the company had decided to carry out human trials in Europe and not US because it is less expensive. He added the current European human trials on the anti-diabetes drug would cost about $1.5 million. Had the trials been held in the US, he estimated the cost could have been $2.5 million.

Mr Rao said the company hoped to find a partner to carry on the trials once the anti-diabetic drug successfully cleared early stages of phase II trials (meant to test the efficacy of the drug as against toxicity tests in the earlier phase). The high cost of drug development has forced Indian companies to look for partners during human trials.

The association of American pharmaceutical companies, PhRMA, had estimated the cost of developing a new drug to be about $802 million in 2000. Clinical trials run for about 8 to 12 years and the high level of failures bloat the overall cost of drug development. PhRMA estimated that only one compound out of 250 that entered pre-clinical tests (on animals) finished as an approved drug.

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