IPCA Laboratories, the Mumbai-based pharmaceuticals major, is planning a foray into anti-cancer therapies.
The company, which clocked sales of Rs 1,100 crore in the year 2007-08, has targeted a two-pronged approach of new biological entities (NBEs) and ayurvedic remedies for cancer as two possible areas to expand research. IPCA had launched two biological entities in the market six months back.
“We believe future medicines are going to be largely biological, and we are putting a significant amount of effort in them,” said AK Jain, executive director, IPCA Laboratories.
IPCA has grown by 18 to 20 per cent in the last three years, and expects to retain the pace for next few years.
NBEs are drugs that are organic in nature — as opposed to existing medicines, which are primarily chemical in nature. The market for biological drugs in cancer treatment is nascent, and needs to be nurtured through the marketing and distribution channels of the company, Jain said.
IPCA has agreed to assist Vaidya Balendu Prakash in analysing and formulating ayurvedic drugs according to established standards of medicine and has set up a laboratory for the purpose. Studies are also on to find a cure for chronic migraine, perennial rhinitis and anemia.
“The problem in ensuring global acceptance of ayurvedic medicine is difficulty in finding the exact formula for mass reproduction of medicines,” said Prakash, erstwhile physician to the President of India and winner of the Padma Shri award in 1999. The World Health Organisation’s guidelines require a medicinal formula to be reproducible, safe and effective.
To this end, IPCA has set up a separate company named IPCA Traditional Remedies Limited (ITRL) and allocated Rs 20 crore for research. ITRL scientists are currently working on analysis of a handful of compounds. “Most ayurvedic medicines available today focus on safety. We believe it needs to be safe and effective,” Prakash said.
Ayurvedic compositions are typically made over two to three years, and every step needs to be monitored actively. Parameters include heat of formulation, density and average size of the nanoparticles, said Prakash. Failure to do so means the formulations cannot be replicated — an essential requirement for recognition as a valid medical compound.