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The pharmaceutical industry is responsible for developing through innovation; producing through formulations (such as tablets, capsules, injections, creams, lotions, etc.) and marketing drugs that are used as medications to treat various diseases. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most complex businesses in the global economy. As there is a multitude of factors involved in the pharmaceutical industry, it is also one of the most regulated industries in the world. The main focus of the pharmaceutical industry is to come up with drugs that are excellent in terms of quality, safety and efficacy.
HISTORY OF DRUG REGULATION: During the transition phase from 19th to 20th century, pharmacy was a science still in its juvenile stages. The most common method of manufacturing drugs was by processing them with hands in the local pharmacy units. It was very difficult to ensure consistency in design and composition of the drugs because advance technologies and equipment to ascertain and assess the uniformity of content were non-existent. The most important challenge faced by the 19th and 20th century pharmaceutical practices was to provide a concrete definition for DRUG was and to define acceptable standards of composition, purity, and strength. The most important development in this direction was marked by the creation of the US Pharmacopoeia (USP) in 1820 (FDAReview.org, 2008).
Two main events led to strategic initiatives in the field of regulating drugs. These were the Sulphanilamide disaster and the Thalidomide tragedy. The first one i.e. Sulphanilamide disaster occurred in 1937 in the US. The main cause was an elixir of the medicine sulfanilamide that was not prepared properly and the consumption of which led to mass poisoning in the US causing a loss of more than 100 lives. This mishappening prompted the USA Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938, which required pre-approval before distribution of a new drug. The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, also introduced the New Drug Application (NDA) although at that time there was no requirement for proof of safety, only efficacy needed to be demonstrated. This law continued until the next milestone i.e. the Thalidomide tragedy which occurred in the early 1960s. Thalidomide was a drug that was introduced as a sedative (narcotic tranquilizer) drug in the late 1950s. In 1961, it was withdrawn from the market owing to widespread severe birth defects reported in newborn babies due to the consumption of this drug by pregnant women. This tragedy is still termed as "one of the biggest medical tragedies of modern times" with the number of deformed babies ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 (Anon, 2010). This was a particularly sensational event and led to a much stricter and rigorous testing regime for drugs before they could be marketed to the general public. The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) first introduced Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations in 1948, but it was not until 1962 that explicit statutory power was given to these regulations. Since those days, the requirements for the manufacture and testing of medicinal products, and product license applications have changed drastically.
PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES: Most of the pharmaceutical companies came into effect in the 19th and the early 20th century but the field still remained small scale in scope. The major development and expansion work in the field of pharmaceuticals started only after 1970. Few key milestones in the history of pharmaceuticals occurred during the 1920s and 1930s when key drug discoveries in terms of insulin and penicillin were made. These were the first drugs that were manufactured on a large scale and distributed. During this period, the European countries developed particularly strong pharmaceutical industries and this is the main reason why most of the pharmaceutical giants are headquartered in the European countries. In the 1940s, government regulations were released to label drugs as prescription medicines (available only with a physician prescription) and non-prescription drugs (available as over the counter drugs). 1950s saw a drastic development in the biotechnology domain of the scientific approaches such as researches on human biology and DNA. In 1970s, there were several initiatives to start a mass expansion in the field of pharmaceuticals. During this era, the pharmaceutical industry witnessed patents coming in to force in most countries. Mid-1980s were marked by small biotechnology firms coming in to existence but these were still not a dominant force.
Two main areas where all pharmaceutical companies delve into are the Core Pharmaceutical Business that involves patented molecules and new chemical entities and Biotechnology based Pharmaceutical Products that involve drugs and molecules that are biotechnology derived products. Biotechnology derived products is an umbrella term used for a collection of products that have been prepared by a large number of specialized technologies and processes that involve the use of living organisms or their units to prepare and develop products that have an added-value and are pharmacologically viable i.e. they can produce a desired medicinal effect in the human beings or animals and can be used as medicines for the betterment of the human race. Pharmaceutical companies that utilize these processes and techniques extensively on the industrial and commercial scale are referred to as biotechnology based companies.
PHARMACEUTICAL & BIOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY: GLOBAL SCENARIO
SALES AND REVENUE: Global market scenario for the pharmaceutical companies can be predicted on the basis of the company's annual and quarterly report, overall market and economic state of affairs. In 2006, global pharmaceutical sales totaled US$643 billion with a growth of 7% from the previous year (IMS Health, Feb 2007). Strongest growth in pharmaceutical sales since 1998 was reported by North America (12.6% per year) compared to 9.3% in Europe and 2.9% in Japan (Office of Fair Trading [UK], Feb 2007). The three major markets i.e. North America, Europe (including the UK) and Australia represent 45%, 23% and 1% of total global sales (IMS Health MIDAS, 2007).
However, predictions of high growth for the recently introduced products or sales loss could not be predicted always with absolute certainty due to frequent challenges encountered in the pharmaceutical industry viz. patent expiry, generic entry, labeling restrictions or black box warnings etc. For example best seller drugs of 2008 like Risperdal, Fosamax, Prevacid, Protonix, Norvasc and Nexium faced further loss of sales due to patent expiry. Regulatory action by FDA (black box warning, restricted use and labelling changes) resulted in loss of sales for Avandia as well as Aranesp and other erythropoietin brands.
Based on the IMS health Projections (Feb 2007), the global pharmaceutical market was $815 billion in 2009 and biotechnology drugs/biologics accounted for $130 billion and generics for $90 billion of the global market. The major therapeutic areas with huge sales were CNS, Cardiovascular, and Cancer having sales $125 billion, $ 110 billion and $75 billion respectively.
Although the major pharmaceuticals are, now, engaged in conducting research for new biopharmaceuticals (active ingredients), biopharmaceuticals is now an indispensible and highly focused area, with successful products in various therapeutic areas like Neurology, Infectious Diseases, Cardiovascular, Oncology etc. Biopharmaceutical products comprise of Monoclonal Antibodies, Biotech Vaccines, Erythropoietin, Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor, Recombinant Human Insulin, Interferons, Human Growth Hormones and Others. Top 3 categories in biotech products were monoclonal antibodies ($40 billion), vaccines ($25 billion) and TNF inhibitors ($22 billion) sales in 2009. In terms of market revenue, out of total pharmaceutical market, biopharmaceutical products accounted for about 10% in 2006 and are projected to account for about 15% by 2015.
However, Lipitor still remains the world best selling drug ($12.4 billion projected sales) followed by Plavix (sales of $9 billion) and Enbrel. There were five biologics in the top ten best selling list and eight biologics in the top twenty lists in 2009. Tamiflu the most talked about antiviral of 2009 with sales of $3.1 billion failed to make the best selling list. Eleven brands had blockbuster sales of more than $5 billion and all drugs listed in the 20 top drug lists category experienced sales of more than $4 billion in the year 2009 (Knol Beta, 2010).
The global market for biopharmaceuticals is projected to reach US$182.5 billion by 2015, registering a CAGR of 12.4% during the period 2006-2015 (Piribo projections).
Table 1 shows the list of 12 largest pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies also called as the BIG PHARMA ranked by healthcare revenues in 2009. As is evident from the table, of the 12 big pharma by revenues, 6 companies are US based and another 6 are UK based. The table clearly depicts the dominance of the US and the UK in the pharmaceutical sector.
Table . Top 12 Pharmaceutical Companies by Revenues (2009)
Total Revenues (USD millions)
R&D Expenses (reported currency in millions)
Fortune 500 Ranking
Johnson & Johnson
Merck & Co.
Source: Various Annual Reports. Available as a separate bibliography for Table 1 in the end.
Table 2 shows the top 15 pharmaceutical companies by sales in 2008. As is evident, of the 15 top companies, 7 pharmaceutical companies are US based and 6 are UK based. Along with the trends depicted by Table 1, Table 2 emphasizes again the dominance of the US and the UK in the pharmaceutical sector.
Table . Top 15 Pharmaceutical Companies by Sales (2008)
Johnson & Johnson
Merck & Co.
Eli Lilly and Company
Source: IMS Health, 2008. Top 15 Global corporations
Table 3 shows a list of the top 20 pharmaceutical products in terms of sales in billion USD in 2008. Lipitor remained the top selling drug, followed by Plavix and Enbrel.
Table . Top 20 Pharmaceutical Products in Terms of Sales in Billion USD in 2008
Revenue Rank 2008
Sales $ billion
Bristol Myers Squibb, Sanofi Aventis
Amgen, Pfizer Takeda
RA, JRA, Ps, PsA, AS
Glaxo Smith Kline
J&J, Merck, Mitsubishi Tanabe
RA, UC, CD, Ps, PsA, AS
4.75 5. 6
RA, Ps, JIA, PsA, AS, CD
All Sales figures are actual sales figures from different companies
Source: Knol Beta, 2010. Top Ten/Twenty Best Selling Drugs 2009
In general terms a DRUG is a substance which when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function in some way. In pharmacological context, a drug is "a chemical substance used in the treatment, cure, prevention, or diagnosis of disease or used to otherwise enhance physical or mental well-being." (Dictionary.com, 2010). AN ACTIVE PHARMACEUTICAL INGREDIENT (API) is any biologically active substance present in a pharmaceutical drug. It is sometimes also referred to as active substance, active entity or moiety. A FORMULATION also called as a DOSAGE FORM or DRUG PRODUCT of a drug has two main ingredients. These are, the API which is the active part of the drug itself causing the desired pharmacological effect and an excipient that is pharmaceutically and pharmacologically inert and is added to the API in order to balance the API and also in order to keep the final dosage form intact.
All medicinal substances that have pharmacological properties are called pharmaceutical substances and these can be classified within a number of terminologies as described under.
NEW CHEMICAL ENTITIES or SMALL MOLECULE DRUGS: A new chemical entity (NCE) or new molecular entity (NME) is defined as a new compound with new chemical structure, different interaction with biological targets and say a better therapeutic response when compared to already present products / formulations. In other words this is a molecule or a pharmacologically active moiety that has not been previously approved by drug regulatory authorities for medicinal use in general public. An NCE is produced during the drug discovery phase and can later on undergo clinical trials after which it will be approved for marketing in humans. The company that produces the NCE is known as the innovator company.
GENERICS: A drug with the same active ingredients and equivalence as the original small-molecule pharmaceutical (API) produced by using chemical synthesis. A generic must contain the same active ingredients as the original formulation. Generic drugs should be identical or within an acceptable range to the branded product (innovator product) with respect to the pharmacological effect produced. Generics are also expected to be identical in dose, strength, route of administration, safety, efficacy, and intended use with the innovator product.
BIOPHARMACEUTICALS (Accenture research, 2009) is a general term referred to products that are biotechnology-derived pharmaceuticals or products that are produced by using processes and techniques specific to the field of biotechnology. Biopharmaceuticals is a broad term that covers several sub-terms such as biological, biosimilars, biogenerics. BIOLOGICAL PRODUCTS or BIOLOGICALS are defined by the US FDA as "pharmaceuticals that include a broad range of products such as vaccines, blood and blood components, allergenic products, somatic cells, gene therapy, tissues, and recombinant therapeutic proteins generally composed of sugars, proteins, or nucleic acids or complex combinations of these substances, or may be living entities such as cells and tissues". Biologicals can be isolated from a wide range of natural sources such as human, animal, or microorganism or maybe produced using various other technologies such as gene-based and cellular techniques. When compared to the conventional small molecules or APIs, biological are very different. This is due to the fact that that biological have a huge complex structure against small molecules whose structure is comparatively simple and very well known. Due to this reason, biological cannot be easily identified and isolated. Also because these products are heat labile and can be easily infected by microorganisms, it is relatively difficult to prepare these products and hence there are fewer companies that are extensively biotech based in the world.
The synthetic small molecules are simple, small, easily characterized and clean entities.
Figure 1 shows the structure of Aspirin
A biotech molecule has complex production site, a very large product, heterogeneous structure, is difficult to characterize and is difficult to clean.
Figure 2 shows the structure of Human Insulin
Figure . Structure of Aspirin
Figure . Structure of Human Insulin
[Accessed 25 June, 2010]
Source: http://www.lightsources.org/images/pressreleases/2006/pruch061_1.jpg [Accessed 25 June, 2010]
BIOSIMILARS (European EMEA) or FOLLOW-ON BIOLOGICS (US FDA) are approved drugs, produced by using biotechnology, referencing an originator biologic. These are follow-on or copies or different versions of the already approved and manufactured biotech products. There is always difficulty in establishing similarity amongst these products because it is almost impossible to compare one protein with another protein and hence there safety and efficacy cannot be easily established with already approved counterparts. Thus, unlike we have generics for the small molecules or APIs it is very difficult for any company to have a biogeneric for a generic product. Hence, these products are commonly called as Biosimilars. BIOGENERICS is a term used to refer to interchangeable Biosimilars which are very difficult to figure out.
DRUGS & MECHANISM OF ACTION
Pharmacology is a branch of science dealing with the study of drug action. It studies the interactions that occur in organisms when a chemical substance (in this case the drug substance) interacts with the biochemical functions of the body. Pharmacology encompasses the study of specific aspects related to pharmaceuticals such as the drug properties determined by its composition, drug-body and drug-drug interactions, toxicology, therapeutic efficacy, and medicinal benefits accomplished.
Whenever a drug substance is administered to a patient it initiates a specific biochemical interaction in the body to produce its pharmacological effect. In pharmacology, this dynamic action - reaction is called as the Mechanism of Action (MOA). Generally, a mechanism of action includes one or the other molecular targets or selectivity site to which the drug binds to produce an effect. When the drug binds to the receptor or the target (such as an enzyme) it produces an irreversible change to the receptor initiating further biochemical reactions in the cell. These reactions are responsible for the targeted pharmacological effect desired.
Figure . Mode of Action of Various Antiplatelet Drugs
Source: McCann, A., 2007. Antiplatelet therapy after coronary occlusion
Key: ADP: Adenosine diphosphate; GP IIb/IIIa: Glycoprotein IIb/IIIa complex; COX: Cyclo-oxygenase
Figure 3 demonstrates the MOA of various antiplatelet drugs that are a group of powerful medications that prevent the formation of blood clots. Whenever a person gets wounded, platelets arrive and aggregate on the site of wound and club together to form a clot that stops the bleeding. Usually this is a very useful phenomenon and helps our body to prevent excessive blood loss. Problem occurs when these platelets start aggregating inside an injured blood vessel in diseases such as atherosclerosis and prevent the smooth blood flow through the blood vessel. Antiplatelet medications are the drugs administered to prevent this process from occurring. The most common antiplatelet drug is Aspirin, others being Plavix (clopidogrel bisulfate) and Ticlid (ticlopidine hydrochloride) (Cleveland Clinic, 2009).
As is clear from the diagram, the various modes of actions of antiplatelet drugs (that do not allow platelets to aggregate) can be described as:
Aspirin inhibits the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase 1 and in turn inhibits platelet activation. This prevents the synthesis of thromboxane A2 that causes platelet aggregation
Clopidogrel prevents adenosine diphosphate from binding to a platelet receptor and in turn inhibits the activation of the glycoprotein IIb/IIIa complex. This inhibits platelet aggregation.
Dipyridamole inhibits platelet aggregation by increasing the production of prostacyclin that causes platelet aggregation
Thus, it is clear from this discussion that various drug molecules act on various sites in the same cell with various mechanisms of actions to produce similar pharmacological effects.
The global pharmaceutical market stood at $810 billion in 2009 but was faced by difficult market dynamics, recession and compelling pressure from the generics market with many blockbusters becoming off patented. Of the total sales quoted above the total biotechnology share was $130 billion and that of the generic market was worth $90 billion.
GENERICS OF SMALL MOLECULES
Generic drugs as discussed in the introduction chapter come into existence when patents for the blockbusters expire and the new bioequivalent formulations are launched in the market. These "Me Too" drugs are known as generics. Generic drugs are lower in price when compared to the branded products because during the manufacturing of generic products, companies tend to save a lot of money that is spent by innovator companies in research and development. There are a number of stake holders that benefit from generics. These are described in the following paragraphs.
GENERIC DRUG COMPANIES: Many companies that dabble in manufacturing low cost generics tend to be the highest gainers from this business. In fact many companies in the emerging markets are exclusively generic manufacturers and are world leaders in this field. These include big and profitable companies such as the India based Ranbaxy that was recently acquired by Daichi-Sankyo and the Israel based pharmaceutical company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. These companies save a lot in terms of money spent in the initial discovery and development phase of new molecules especially clinical trials. These savings are in the tune of $800 million and hence the lower cost of generics.
INSURANCE COMPANIES: In many countries, especially in the developed countries, the healthcare expenses are covered by either the state or the insurance agencies. Many well known players in this field such as the UnitedHealth Group (UNH), WellPoint Health Networks (WLP), and AFLAC (AFL) have constantly motivated their clients to go for generic products. These products as discussed above are as efficacious as the patented molecules and also much cheaper. Hence the use of these products is beneficial both to the insurance company as well as the clients.
PHARMACIES: As generic drugs are cheaper hence the pharmacies get a better share of margin on the wholesale prices of these drugs. Some part of this profit is passed on to the customers in terms of lesser costs and the rest is relished by the pharmacies.
Table 1 clearly shows data from 3 well known pharmacy chains in the USA that sell generics (Costco, Walgreens and CVS). The table provides the comparison between the price of generics versus patented products. The branded drugs are given in bold followed by generics in unbold.
Table 1. Prices of Generics and Patented Molecules by Retailer
Drug name, dosage, and quantity
Zoloft 25mg (30)
Sertraline 25mg (30)
Prozac 20 mg (30)
Fluoxetine 20mg (30)
Zocor 20 mg (30)
Simvastatin 20mg (30)
Source:Wikinvest, Generic Drugs
GENERICS MARKET TILL PRESENT
Table 2 shows the list and characteristics of a few top selling drugs in the domain of generics in 2008. Thus, the table clearly depicts that if the current sales are any depictions then generics will soon overtake their patented counterparts.
Table 2. Top Selling Generics of 2008
2008 Sales in Million USD (Generics)
2008 Sales (Brands)
1.1 Billion USD
Amlodipine besylate and benazepril hydrochloride
2.2 Billion USD
K-V Pharmaceutical Company
807 Million USD
1.6 Billion USD
2.1 Billion USD
2.1 Billion USD
429 Million USD
579 Million USD
Source: Fortune, 2009.
The first Biotechnology Company was started by Robert Swanson and Herbert Boyer in 1976 with the sole aim of using genetic technology to make commercially viable therapeutic proteins. The initial success stories of the biotechnology companies were molecules such as human insulin, human growth hormone and erythropoietin approved by FDA in 1982, 1985 and 1989, respectively). Today, biopharmaceuticals account for 10% to 15% of the world pharmaceutical market, with sales in the USA alone reaching around $30 billion (Sargent, M.G., 2005).
As per latest trends the market for biopharmaceutical has reached a staggering $40 billion USD and includes vaccines, anti-cancer agents, and arthritis and psoriasis drugs. These segments are also the fastest growing segments in the pharmaceutical industry. Of the 10,000 drugs present in the global pharmaceutical market, approximately 250 drugs are biopharmaceutical based.
Figure 1. World Market Potential for Biosimilars
Source: Gen - Bio market trends. 2009
Figure 1 shows the current trends in the biosimilar market. According to the trends the major share for the biosimilar market is ruled by blood products, followed by insulin and human growth hormone.
THE FIRST BIOSIMILAR - OMNITROPE
In 2006, EMEA and the FDA approved a biosimilar called Omnitrope for the branded drug Genotropin. This decision proved to be a first of its type in the pharmaceutical industry as this was the first "Me Too" product for a biotechnology based product or drug. Omnitrope developed and marketed by Sandoz is a treatment for growth disorder in children and adults. The regulatory authorities stressed that Omnitrope was similar to Genotropin but not equivalent to the brand drug, hence the name biosimilar (EMEA - and not biogeneric) or follow on proteins (US FDA). It was always a challenge to produce Omnitrope as the follow on proteins are large molecules synthesized in living cells and are very difficult to duplicate or replicate when compared to the small molecule drugs that have a specific and well characterized structure. Omnitrope was very beneficial to the patients as it was marketed at a price that was 25% less than the Pfizer drug, Genotropin (thePharmaLetter, 2006).
Table 3 shows the sales of the first biosimilar Omnitrope in the USA.
Table 3. Omnitrope Sales in the USA
Source: Biosimilars, 2008
Today the main biosimilars in the EU market include Omnitrope (hGH) and Binocrit (epoetin alpha, often called "EPO" or erythropoietin) from Sandoz, Valtropin (hGH) from Biopartners and EPO version from Hexal. Other countries where biosimilars are in existence include USA (Sandoz's Omnitrope), China (EPO versions, Interferons, Interleukine (IL)-2, IL-11, GM-CSF, hGHs), India (hGH, EPO, Interferon alpha 2b, insulin), Australia (Sandoz's Omnitrope) and Cuba, Egypt, Africa (EPO versions) (Biosimilars, 2008).
Table 3 shows a number of biosimilars that were approved and launched in the European market following the approval of Omnitrope.
Table 3. Approved Biosimilar Drugs in EU
Omnitrope (human growth hormone)
Sandoz (owned by Novartis)
Valtropin (human growth hormone)
Epoetin alfa hexal (erythropoietin)
Hexal Biotech (owned by Novartis)
Recommended for approval by European Medicines Agency (EMEA) October 2007
Recommended for approval by EMEA October 2007
Source: Moran, N., 2008
According to Moran (2008), the first biosimilar Omnitrope has achieved a total sale of $1.9 billion across the global market from the time of its launch. Of the total revenues earned so far, as high as 39% has been generated from sales in the European market.
CURRENT TRENDS IN THE BIOSIMILAR MARKET
In the 2010 budget presented to the US Congress by President Barack Obama, special provisions have been laid down for the expedite approval of biosimilars with the sole aim of cutting health costs and lowering down the prices for the branded biological. If USA was able to approve biosimilars quickly it would help the government to cut down on branded drugs by $25 billion from 2009 to 2018 (Nature News, 2009).
Thus, if we analyze the latest market trends it becomes evident that the biosimilars have a huge market and can lead to profit maximization for the pharmaceutical companies. After the new legislation coming up in the USA and EU, the biosimilar market is set to expand by another $5 billion.
Table 4 shows various key patents of biotech products due to be expired in the coming years. As is clear from the discussion above this entails a huge opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry.
Table 4. Key Patents due to Expire
Source: Nature News, 2009
FUTURE TRENDS IN THE BIOSIMILAR MARKET
Thus a large number of profitable biological will become off patent by 2010 (worth $10 billion). This estimate is bound to rise by another $10 billion biotechnology based products coming off patent by 2015 (Insmed, 2008). By 2010 biotechnology based products will constitute more than 15% of the global pharmaceutical market with as high as $18 billion products expected to go off patent by 2011 (Pharma Focus Asia, 2008).
MAIN PLAYERS IN THE BIOSIMILARS MARKET (ICIS.com, 2009)
The leader in the biosimilars market is Sandoz a business unit of the Switzerland based innovator company Novartis. Sandoz already has 3 approved biosimilars in the form of Omnitrope, Binocrit and Zarzio and is the only company to have a biosimilar approved in the USA (Omnitrope). Teva pharmaceuticals, the leading Israel based generic company has one product Tevagrastim on the European market and has acquired 2 biotech based companies in the USA - Barr Pharmaceuticals and CoGenesys to widen its biotech base. Recently Teva entered in a strategic partnership with the Switzerland based custom manufacturing company Lonza to jointly develop, manufacture and market biosimilars. Big Pharma players such as Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca are also planning to enter strategic alliances with biotechnology based companies or acquire smaller such companies.
The leader amongst all the Big Pharma still remains Merck & Company that has established a new division called as Merck BioVentures (MBV) to harness the best from the biotech domain. It has also acquired products in late phase clinical trials from the US-based Insmed and GlycoFi.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR EMERGING MARKETS SUCH AS INDIA (BioSpectrum, 2010)
In recent years the most number of biosimilars will be developed for drug classes erythropoietin, filgrastim, human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin. Maximum growth will be around the year 2016 with the timeframe of 2012-19 seeing patents worth $60 billion getting expired for the biotech drugs. The major players from India in the biosimilar field will be Dr Reddy's Labs, Ranbaxy, Biocon, Shantha Biotech and Intas Biopharmaceuticals. According to reports, the Indian biosimilars market was worth $200 million in 2008 and is heading for the $580 million mark by 2012. The economics of scale that has been achieved by the Indian companies manufacturing biosimilars can be estimated by the fact that Biocon has been able to sell the biosimilar version of its human insulin product at a discount of almost up to 80-85 percent when compared to the branded biotech products.
One of the prime targets for these companies is to develop biosimilars for the oncology therapeutic segment. The current market size of the domestic oncology market is about $19 million which may rise to $50 million by the end of 2010. In the oncology sector, Dr Reddy's Labs had a big name when it launched its biosimilar Reditux, in 2003 which was way cheaper than the branded products.
Other players that are quite active in generating biosimilars in the Indian pharmaceutical sector are Biocon (4 products - EPO, insulin, GCSF and streptokinase), Reliance Life Sciences (3 biosimilars - ReliPoietin Erythropoietin [EPO], ReliGrast Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factor [G-CSF], and ReliFeron [Interferon Alpha 2b] launched in 2008) and Intas Biopharmaceuticals (4 biosimilars launched in India and abroad - G-CSF, EPO, Interferon Alpha Beta (IFN-) and Peg-GCSF). Other Indian companies that are focusing on building their biotech competencies include Glenmark (planning to launch its first biotech product by 2010 from its Switzerland based biological research facility), Ranbaxy (expecting to launch G-CSF with its strategic collaboration with Zenotech Laboratories in Brazil, Mexico, CIS and Russia) and Cipla (Joint ventures called as BioMab with a Chinese company with its first product to be out by 2010). Similarly, Wockhardt has a number of biosimilars at various stages of development that are targeted towards the US and EU markets.
Thus, in the words of Mr. Jay Desai, Founder and CEO, Universal Consulting as quoted in BioSpectrum, 2010: