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October 17, 2004

India emerges as new drug trial hot spot

Extracts from an Always-On Network posting:
India’s small but fast growing clinical trials industry has the potential to significantly lower drug development costs for U.S. and global companies. Drug trials in India may also mean the difference between life and death for startup companies in the biotech and medical device fields...

...Multinational drug companies like Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Aventis, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline have been running Phase II and III clinical drug trials in India. Eli Lilly alone is conducting tests on 20 new drugs in India, and will include India in global testing next year with its important new inhaler insulin drug, Oralin. Pfizer has been conducting limited clinical trials in India for seven years, and is testing drugs for the treatment of schizophrenia, menopause and breast cancer. A variety of both India-based and global CRO firms that specialize in outsourced clinical trials management are working to expand India’s clinical trials business. Until this year’s important regulatory changes, they had not been able to expand beyond one percent of the global market...

...But cost saving is not India’s only advantage. Genetically and culturally, India is perhaps the most diverse country on the face of the earth, argues biologist Madhav Gadgil, who teaches at Bangalore’s Indian Institute of Science. Genetic diversity is an important asset in testing new drugs because people with different genetic make-ups may respond to drugs in different ways, he notes.