India's biotech industry emerging as world innovator, collaborator, competitor

Indias health biotech firms are emerging as a major global player, with growing means and know-how to produce innovative as well as generic drugs and vaccines at costs small relative to those of giant Western firms, according to ground-breaking Canadian research published April 9.

The budding of an innovative Indian biotech sector holds major implications for the global industry and for improving both health and prosperity in the developing world.

India is innovating its way out of poverty, says co-author Peter A. Singer, MD, of the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health (University Health Network and University of Toronto). With a massive and increasingly well-educated workforce, India is poised to revolutionize biotechnology just as it did the information technology industry.

Indias biotech sector is like a baby elephant when it matures, it will occupy a lot of space. The biotech industry is globalizing rapidly and the impact of Indias market entry and contribution to improving world health is potentially huge.

However, Singer and co-authors Abdallah S. Daar, MD, Sarah E. Frew, PhD, Monali Ray, Rahim Rezaie and Stephen M. Sammut, MBA, warn that the allure of world market profits may divert much needed Indian research attention away from treatments for specific developing country illnesses, unlikely to be created by Western-based firms. India needs to take steps to avert this outcome, they say.

Published April 9 by Nature Biotechnology, the authors say their study of 21 home-grown firms sheds unprecedented public light on Indias private sector biotech efforts and reports a sector preparing not only for future growth but also, in some cases, for developing innovative products for global markets.

It is the first known detailed, independent, publicly available research revealing product development capabilities and strategies used by Indias private firms to survive and grow amid developing count

Contact: Terry Collins
Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy,McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health

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