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India – The perfect hub for healthcare innovation

In the last decade, there has been considerable growth in the pharma sector of India, going from a mere USD 6 billion in 2007 to USD 33 billion in 2017. With a projected export of USD 17.27 billion in 2018-19, India has been dominating the export for generic drugs and has become the 10th biggest exporter of drugs overall in 2017.

Recently, India’s position has been cemented in the global pharma and healthcare sectors with it not only being a passive producer of drugs from global pharma giants stationed here but also a creator of its own triumphant drug patents.

Many industry veterans suggest that India is in the magnifying glass of global pharma and biotech giants because of the underlying true potential of India for pharma innovation due to its unique focus on STEM education as well as it’s economic landscape as a developing country.

Here’s why we think India will emerge as a hub for pharma innovation in the coming decade.

International tie-ups:

There have been countless examples of global pharma companies making mutual tie-ups with India based health sector companies. India is a land of raw and untapped potential with its vast number of biomedical, chemistry and bioinformatics professionals. While training individuals to become effective chemists is both resources hungry and time-consuming, India has it covered with its large sample population (50,000 doctors graduate each year).

In the last decade, pharma giants with the likes of Wyeth, Pfizer, Eli Lily, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to name a few have tied up with Indian companies like TCS, GVK Biosciences, Indus Biosciences, Bharat biotech, Torrent Pharma and much more. These are not mere collaborations to opened up shop to passively produce patented drugs on Indian soil but also involve drug research and clinical trials.

Genetically diverse population:

Believe it or not, India has one of the most genetically diverse population in the world. This makes it the perfect place to conduct clinical trials of drugs helping get safer, more efficient and better drugs out on the market.

This becomes more important as India makes up roughly 16% of the world’s population (and 20% of its disease burden). In 2017, India represented about 1.4% of the global clinical trials a number which is bound to improve now that the systems facilitating these are becoming more solid and calculable. Another major advantage is that clinical trials cost half as much on average when conducted in India instead of countries such as the US, UK, and Australia.

Pharma-on-demand economy:

With startups for everything from delivery of medicines, diagnostics, appointment bookings, and home consultation. India’s smartphone penetrated population is able to access to convenient healthcare at affordable prices.

As per a Gartner report, the big data industry has CAGR of 28.3% and will double by 2020. One of its largest customers is the pharma industry. There is an abundance of databases of patient information and health care delivery systems. Analysis of this data to provide better insights will improve medical care delivery and lower costs overall.

Availability of well qualified and well-trained professionals:

India’s strong STEM infrastructure, as well as numerous industry-academia partnerships, have resulted in an abundant pool of scientists and pharma talent that is propelling the industry forward. India also gives pharma players a significant cost advantage as intellectual labor and specialized talent can be hired much cheaper as compared to developed economies.

Creation of new drug patents:

All this while, India is seeing much positive growth in terms of creating new patents in the pharma space. There are new drugs and delivery systems being created each with great success in certification and clinical trial phases. One example of such drug delivery systems is Oral Thin Films.

OTFs (or Oral Thin Films) are a revolutionary new drug delivery system. These are thin strips which dissolve in coming in contact with your saliva. These are loaded with active substances and are very effective delivery systems for most drugs. Not only are OTFs more effective delivery systems but they also enter the bloodstream directly bypassing the gastrointestinal tract entirely. There are other added benefits to OTFs as well, like, a lower strength of excipients, easy to swallow without water or any other equipment needed for consumption of regular oral drugs.

With the change in the antiquated patent laws and the growth in the number of well-trained professionals in the field of pharma & biotech, India seems to be an emerging hub for the creation of new patents on drugs and drug delivery systems.

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