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After BPO, India faces biotech challenge from China

India needs to take China seriously in biotech sector, one of the country's top biotech firm's JMD tells Rosy Mishra.

India's up-and-coming biotech industry is poised to take a big leap into the future. Several home-grown companies have announced new strategies and initiatives to take up the challenges and cash in on the advantages thrown up by the new product patent regime. One of these major endeavours would be the establishment of a Pentagon of seven Research and Development (R&D) centres across the country by year 2007 by Panacea Biotec, the company's Joint Managing Director Rajesh Jain tells HindustanTimes.com.

Panacea Biotec is the country's third largest biotech firm. The new venture, involving as many as 500 scientists, will be a major step towards making drugs more cost-effective by facilitating better, faster and innovative R&D.

'The environment in these centres would be very very innovative. Each centre will be an independent body with the ability to take its own decisions,' says Jain.

'India is known as the human resource capital of the world. We do good quality R&D. Our scientists are going to work hard and make drugs more efficient and cost-effective globally. They will be providing global solutions,' he asserts.
The enterprise would be the first of its kind in India. Panacea already has three R&D centres in the country, recognised by the Government of India.

Jain says, with the new patent regime in place, this is the right time to make the best out of the country's large pool of scientific talent.

More so, as as the Indian biotech industry faces a tough challenge from China. 'China would be a formidable competitor, I won't say India would fall behind but we need to take China seriously. The Chinese government is investing a lot of money into biotech research.'

However, he declares confidently, 'Our industry will play a very significant and meaningful role globally by 2007.'

Jain's company specialises in production as well as research in the fields of drug delivery and discovery of small molecules, vaccines, organ-transplantation, biopharmaceuticals and biotechnology-based products of international quality. The broad range of products includes drugs for arthritis, diabetes, renal diseases, osteoporosis, cardiology, tuberculosis as well as anti-bacterials. Recently, the company launched an anti-tuberculosis drug called Xeed. The patent for the product has been filed in 34 countries.

'We are trying to make Panacea Biotec a fully research-based biotech company. We already have joint ventures with some overseas biotech firms and at present, we are in talks with several others,' the JMD says.

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