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Global biotech leader Amgen bets big on India

Clinical trials, R&D partners and local sales likely on the agenda, reports Suprotip Ghosh.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 19:11 IST

Amgen, the world's largest biotechnology company, is betting big on India. The California-based biotechnology company with sales in excess of $12 billion is setting up an office in India with the aim of testing its drugs in the country and exploring opportunities for tie-ups.

"Amgen is currently forming local affiliate companies in Mumbai and Hong Kong that will have the capability to conduct clinical trials in India and East Asia.

Amgen's affiliate in Mumbai will support the company's clinical trials to take place in India," Mary Klem, Associate Director, Amgen, told Hindustan Times in an e-mailed response.

Industry sources said the company, which banks on innovation to develop therapeutic drugs, is also looking at partnerships that might lead to potential takeovers, though the company refused to divulge details on future plans.

"Amgen is contracting with partners in India and China for services to support its R&D (research and development) operations, including research, pre-clinical development, data management support and statistical programming," the e-mail said. Amgen has an annual research budget of $1.3 billion.

Industry sources said the entry could also mean that Amgen would launch its products in the Indian market soon.

Amgen has a global policy of conducting clinical studies in countries where there is the reasonable expectation that Amgen or an Amgen partner will commercialise a medicine under investigation.

Biotechnology drugs are widely regarded to be the next big step in pharmaceuticals. Indian pharmaceutical companies such as Wockhardt and Biocon are augmenting their skills to corner a share of the market. They, however, currently focus more on biogenerics, the biotechnology equivalent of unbranded drugs.

Amgen's foray comes as thumbs up for the capabilities of Indian pharmaceutical industry and its potential in research and clinical services. "International companies that want to set up research facilities in India would stress on the same kind of quality for its components and services in India," said Kevin Leak of VWR Lab Products, which partners Amgen for research in the US and Canada.

Amgen is embarking on its single greatest R&D expansion since the company's founding in 1980. The R&D expansion is due to a robust pipeline of drugs, which are driving Amgen's growth and helping build a large portfolio.

The American company has the largest pipeline among companies developing biotechnology-based drugs in the world.

The global biotechnology industry is estimated to be worth $65 billion. India's biotech sector reported a strong 37.5 per cent growth with total revenue of $1.45 billion in 2005-06.

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First Published: Nov 15, 2006 19:11 IST