Still lagging far behind in R&D, the Indian pharma industry can accelerate the pace of innovation and compliance by injecting more technology in its formulations

By KTP Radhika

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is one of the most thriving in the world, accounting for about 8% of the total pharmaceutical production by volume as per estimates by the Department of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Government of India. Despite the sheer scale of its business, however, India's pharma industry has not been able to focus much on research and development activities the way its global peers do.

As a result, new drug discoveries are a complete miss here. Also, drug prices remain rather high (especially of those drugs that are not covered under the controlled price list and whose patents are held by multinational corporations based in the US and elsewhere).

The reason why Indian pharma companies have mostly shied away from core R&D is simple: it is too damn expensive and time-consuming. And if that were not enough, there is no certainty of commercial success even after painstaking research and tons of money.

IT adoption picks up

All these challenges have necessitated the use of modern technology tools in the space of pharmaceutical R&D. Starting from the identification of an NCE all the way to clinical trials and launch of the products, research companies now are using many types of IT solutions. Usage of IT is driving the speed of analysis and execution. Without good IT systems, the ability to sift through multiple molecules will be constrained,explains Gupta of Cipla.

Apart from that, growing stringency from regulatory bodies is compelling companies to adopt technology. Ram Yeleswarapu, President & CEO, TAKE Solutions, which specializes in supply chain management and life sciences segments, says, The introduction of new Schedule M and Schedule L1 under Drugs and Cosmetics Rules has led to large-scale upgrade of systems and processes in the industry. As a result, IT investments are expected to spread into regulatory compliance, pharmaco-vigilance and ensuring patient safety, thereby driving the need for integrating diverse enterprise systems to enable efficient operations.

Most large Indian pharmaceutical companies now are using R&D application software and IT infrastructure. Companies are also adopting innovative approaches in R&D, including modeling, simulation and other statistical analysis tools. The market influence is also forcing pharmaceutical companies to adopt new technologies that will help them deal with the large volumes of data that are being generated with respect to drug formulations, chemical compounds for drugs, details of clinical trials, etc.



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