India Looks to a Future in Clinical Trials

Pharma IQ

If the recent recession highlighted anything to firms in all sectors, it was how important it is for them to focus on their core competencies. On occasion, companies can be led away from their primary concern or speciality, which in turn can impact on their success and financial security.

Such issues are prevalent in the competitive world of pharmaceuticals, where drug developers must work quickly to produce new products and innovate as quickly as possible. As a result, it is often time-consuming for them to carry out certain tasks, such as clinical trials, themselves.

Outsourcing has become a key way around such obstacles, with the market for such services developing quickly to become a global proposition. Firms are no longer simply looking to work with other businesses in the same country, as many emerging markets have become potentially more suitable to their needs.


One country which provides evidence of this shift in attitude to trial outsourcing is India. Research by market intelligence body RNCOS has revealed that new measures included in the country's latest budget could lead to major growth in the Indian clinical trial market.

The Booming Clinical Trials Market in India report suggested that global drugs companies could boost their spending on research and development projects in the country by between 25 and 50 per cent, which in turn would see the market enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 31 per cent in the next two years.


According to the study, interest in India can be linked to several issues. The country has a large patient pool with both chronic and infectious diseases, meaning recruitment for trials is theoretically easier than in other areas. In addition, the operation of trials is possible at a lower cost.

"Moreover, the changing regulatory environment and introduction of a patent regime has also given a significant boost to the Indian clinical trial market," the report added.

Other notable aspects of the study include, the discovery that clinical trials in India are generally conducted by either government or private hospitals, while preliminary enquiries also highlighted there are a number of firms and agencies exclusively operating such projects in the country.

So while India has emerged as a strong contender in the clinical trials industry due to its patient pool and cost savings, are there any other benefits the country is offering to the biggest names in pharma? Dr Saral Thangam, technical director of Lotus Clinical Research Academy, told that the personnel on offer in the region are often attractive to companies.

She explained to the website that businesses have high levels of confidence in the qualified employees on hand, particularly pharmacy graduates and doctors. The fact that many of the staff can speak and write English has also put India ahead of other emerging nations, she added, as such a skill set is not always available in countries like China.

However, Sudhir Pai, managing director of Lotus Clinical Research Academy, told the website that such interest should not be considered as evidence that only companies from the western world are keen on launching operations in the country.

He outlined that hopes are high that Japan, one of the biggest pharmaceutical markets in the world, could soon transfer much of its own clinical work to the area in the near future.

India has undoubtedly become a key example of how the outsourcing of clinical trials is now very much a global proposition. With more companies across the globe looking to improve their drug development operations, it is likely that the country - and a number of other emerging nations - will benefit from a welcome boost in the aftermath of the global economic downturn.

While such growth will be useful to many pharmaceutical firms, relationship management issues and strategies linked to partnering with overseas organisations will rise up the agenda for a large number of them. The world is opening up for drugs developers, but they will need the correct skills to take advantage.