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India’s Biotech Companies- Jumbos Waiting to Gro

A Canadian report has come out with news that would gladden the heart of investors of Indian biotechnology companies, as well as strike fear// in the minds of their western rivals.

According to lead reporter Peter Singer of the McLaughlin-Rotman Center for Global Health in Toronto, Canada, “ India is innovating its way out of poverty and ill health".

The report published in Nature Biotechnology, covers about 21 Indian biotechnology companies.

Accordingly, Indian firms, with low wage costs, are all set to make generic drugs when those produced by big Western firms lose patent protection. In addition, they are increasingly trying to develop new drugs that could compete worldwide.

In the meanwhile, it is well known that India’s IT firms have won market share in everything from data analysis to call centers.

Says Singer: "At the moment we think of biotech in India as the baby elephant where information technology is the adult elephant. But that baby elephant is going to grow.

"Any biotech or biopharma player in the industrialized world that doesn't pay careful attention to the innovation that's happening in India ... is not taking a very strategic and global look at their business”, Singer opined.

Yet India could be both potential partner as well as competitor, says Singer, though these companies are "yet to produce a truly innovative health product with a stamp 'Made in India'".

Among successes, the report names the 1997 launch of the hepatitis B vaccine Shanvac-B by Shantha Biotechnics which had caused a tumble in prices to about $0.50 per dose from $15 for a comparable imported product.

Shantha's vaccine now makes up almost 40 percent of hepatitis B vaccines for the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), distributed throughout the developing world.

The Serum Institute of India has become the nation's largest vaccine supplier and exporter, with products sold in 138 cou
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