Powered by a demand for generic drugs, India’s pharmaceutical prowess has seen the country emerge as a global powerhouse driving a reduction in costs and expanding access to life-saving treatments for patients across the world.
However, as competition intensifies, it is imperative that India’s pharmaceutical manufacturers expand their horizons as they seek to grow further. The production of complex generics is a step in this direction, with Indian firms cornering 19% of the global market thus far. Venturing into the biosimilars market is a step in this regard.
For the uninitiated, Biosimilars are the generic versions of biologics medicines made from animal or plant proteins as opposed to chemicals. Biologics are notable disruptors because they are transforming how we treat diseases and because they target underlying causes of diseases as opposed to just its symptoms. However, its cutting-edge nature makes Biologics a double-edged sword; its high cost often puts it out of reach of those that need it most, and Biosimilars are a step towards deepening that access.
The market for this is growing at a rapid pace; Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (Assocham) estimates that the global market for biosimilars will be worth $240 billion by 2030, of which the Indian market will be valued at over $35 billion. Biosimilars currently account for a ‘mere’ $5 billion of the $240 billion global market in biologics, and Indian pharma is awake to the possibilities, but a lot hinges upon factors such as access to critical technology, regulatory guidelines and the price difference between biosimilars and biologics. The greater the price delta, the faster will be the adoption of biosimilars.
Striking the right partnership could be central to getting drugs to market in a cost-effective manner, be it in terms of R&D, manufacturing or marketing these much-needed products. This creates a win-win situation; costs get apportioned and spread out, and patients get access to innovative and cost-effective treatments that are potentially life-saving.
While the business case for this is doubtlessly convincing, its social impact too is profound, given that these target widely prevalent non-communicable diseases like cancer, asthma, and arthritis. India is considered the diabetes capital of the world, and the story isn’t much better across South-East Asia. The life-changing potential of complex generics and biosimilars is just too large to ignore, for the business community and the world.