Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Feb 18, 2005
Industry & Economy - Pharmaceuticals
`Exciting times ahead for Indian pharma industry' New Patents Act may bring in $10-b business
Dr William A. Haseltine, founder of Human Genome Sciences Inc and Chairman and CEO of Hasseltine Associates, talking to media in Hyderabad. Recently he was conferred with Genome Valley Excellence award at BioAsia 2005. A. Roy Chowdhury
Hyderabad , Feb. 17
THE pharmaceutical industry can look to exciting times as huge global opportunities are set to come its way, especially with the new Patents Act in place, according to Dr William A. Haseltine, one of the leading experts in genomics.
He said the new Patents Act had changed the global perception of India, which is now the preferred destination for pharmaceutical business. While the industry is set to undergo a major transformation with focus on discovery research, it could expect to gain a revenue of at least $10 billion in the years to come.
Contract research, contract manufacturing and clinical trials are the areas in which the country can emerge as a major player in the global market, said Dr Haseltine, who was recently made Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of Matrix Labs.
However, the country needs to take several measures to exploit these opportunities by strengthening the regulatory framework with respect to drug approvals and patents. "At present, there are certain structural weaknesses in the Indian regulatory framework with regard to the drug approval process. The country also suffers from inadequate supporting infrastructure in patents protection," Dr Haseltine told newspersons.
The Indian University education system is among the best in the world but it needs to be strengthened further to effectively exploit opportunities, especially in biotechnology.
Dr Haseltine, who is currently working with the Indian Government to strengthen the University education system here, said the US-India Forum for Science and Technology was playing a significant role in the process.
Advising the Indian pharmaceutical industry to draw lessons from the failure of the Italian automobile industry that lost major business to the Japanese manufacturers, Dr Haseltine said the Indian pharmaceutical industry should not restrict its focus to regional markets and should aim at global markets by maintaining world-class standards.
"If you want to compete with China, you need to significantly improve your long-terms investments in infrastructure and never compromise on global quality standards."
Dr Haseltine said there was a need to evolve local venture capital funds. The Indian venture capital business is very small, forcing the industry to look for funding from overseas VCs. There are many wealthy industrialists in the country and they should come forward to float VC funds by transferring a part of their wealth, he said.
Allaying popular apprehensions that the new Patents Act would result in drug prices shooting up in the domestic market, Dr Haseltine expected a multi-tiered price structure to evolve in the country. "I think the Indian Government will keep the drug prices under control."
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