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Germany's Altana Pharma to open R&D unit in Mumbai

Our Bureau

Centre to be operationalised today

Mumbai , Sept. 29

German drugmaker Altana Pharma is setting up its research centre in Mumbai at a total cost of an estimated Rs 90 crore. The centre is the company's first in Asia and third globally, after the Central Research Institute at Konstanz, Germany, and the US.

The new centre will be operationalised on Saturday and will undertake research in segments such as oncology and respiratory illnesses. Clinical development work regarding gastro-intestinal ailments will also be undertaken, said top-officials with Altana Pharma.

The centre will not work as an outsourcing unit and will do innovative research, Dr Ulrich Thibaut, an Altana Pharma board member, told Business Line. There will be some exclusive work coming to the Indian centre. It would also undertake lead-optimisation (where molecules to be developed into medicines are identified) and other scientific work, adding to the company's intellectual property (IP), he said.

The new centre has 18 labs and will add to the capacity of the 30 existing labs in Germany. It will expand capacity and in that sense cut time-lines, he said. But the bigger contribution would be towards IP, he added.

With India now protecting product patents, it was seen as the right time to enter the country, Dr Thibaut said. India's potential in innovation and chemistry were some of the attractive factors to choose the country for its third research base, he said.

Investments

Dr Antal K. Hajos, Managing Director, Altana Pharma Private Ltd (APPL), said that the company had invested about 10 million (about Rs 60 crore) in terms of direct investments in the new centre. It will further invest 5 million euros (about Rs 30 crore) by late 2007.

Altana Pharma AG is present in India through APPL, its wholly owned subsidiary. The company also has an existing tie-up with Zydus Cadila, where they have a 50:50 joint venture partnership called Zydus Altana. This venture has a production facility at greater Mumbai and is a major source for the bulk ingredient in Pantoprazole, a major drug from Altana Pharma's stable.

Dr Thibaut pointed out that products from the company's current portfolio will not be brought into India, as the company is focusing its energies on Latin America and Europe.

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