Leading Indian Pharma Companies Keen to Participate in Development of Molecule for Drug-Resistant TB by 2010

January 14, 2002

Several India pharma companies feature in the line up to develop new molecule for drug resistant tuberculosis, which is going to be funded by the Global Alliance for TB. Although, Dr. Marie Freire, chief executive officer, Global Alliance for TB Drug Development did not disclose the names of the Indian companies, reliable sources informed Pharmabiz.com that some of the companies include AstraZeneca India Pvt. Ltd., Novartis India, Lupin Laboratories, Cadila and Cipla.

Global Alliance called for letters of intent [LOI] in mid-2001 and 103 proposals were received. Out of these 24 LOI were shortlisted and five proposals will be selected for possible funding of drug discovery, said Dr. Freire.

At present, $45 million is set aside for the drug discovery research. The development costs are estimated at approximately $100 million including costs of failure but excluding discovery costs and cost of capital. The internal rate of return for bringing a lead compound to the market ranges between 15 to 30 per cent. "This can be an attractive proposition for companies with pre-existing compounds," Dr. Giorgio Roscigno, director of strategic development and senior advisor, Global Alliance for TB drug development."

As a part of the AstraZeneca Research Foundation sponsored symposium on Current Developments in TB Drug Discovery, the Global Alliance who is a co-sponsor of the event along with WHO [World Health Organisation] is also in discussions to identify Indian companies capable of carrying out R&D in tuberculosis. Dr. Freire appreciated India's scientific skill pool, extensive knowledge, history and research capabilities for Tuberculosis B research. In fact one of the key members on the advisory board of Global Alliance is Dr. Ramesh Panchagnula, Pharmaceutics National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research, Punjab, she added.

Global Alliance has capital base of $450 million and has participation from 28 organisations, which include Bill & Mellinda Gates Foundation, Lupin Laboratories, Wellcome Trust, World Bank, World Health Organisation and Stop TB initiative.

An important aspect of TB drug research is the issue of intellectual property where standard procedures will be adhered by the selected company and Global Alliance will discuss the license options for the drug development.

The value of the present TB drug market is estimated to be $450 million and set to expand to $700 million by 2010, informed Dr. Roscigno. Around 67 per cent of the market is already in the hands of the private sector and the trend is likely to be on the rise, going by Global Alliance's initiatives to entice the private participants.

The single new anti TB drug that reduces the treatment course from six months to less than two months will capture about $325 million of the market. This could expand to $400 million because some of the premium markets may be willing to pay for the shortened treatment course, informed Dr. Roscigno.

The fact that prevention programmes for tuberculosis is extensive; the main objective of Global Alliance is therapeutics. The new drug that reduces treatment duration could lower the non-drug costs such as sputum smears, x-rays and hospital admission by up to 65 per cent. The cost of treating a single TB case vary widely around the world, but often exceeds $25,000 a patient in the US, indicated Dr. Freire. The estimated number of new TB cases increased from eight million in 1997 to 8.4 million in 1999, India accounted for 22 per cent of the cases.