Date: 30th May 2012
The U.S.-India BioPharma and Healthcare Summit 2012, organized by the USA-India Chamber of Commerce, served as a powerful platform for American and Indian companies to come together and build global partnerships to deliver innovation in healthcare and the biopharma industry.
USAIC created a vibrant purpose-driven innovation ecosystem by bringing together the key stakeholders including healthcare and life sciences experts, corporate executives, investors, academic representatives and scholars and policymakers. The ambitious objective, to help facilitate collaborative research partnerships, public-private-academic partnerships and to take the global biopharmaceuticals and healthcare partnership to the next level, seemed to bring the attendees together into one community.
With India ranking third in cancer incidence globally, selecting oncology as the focus area this year was timely. It touched off discussions like India's prowess in IT and the need for it to be leveraged for cancer therapies. India could benefit from setting up a cancer specific genetic database, translational research hubs and nanotechnology centers of excellence to help discover and develop cancer therapies through collaborative research and partnerships. Policy turmoil has led to flat growth in the industry. A comprehensive and transparent clinical trials policy is the need of the hour, keeping patient benefit as the top priority.
“India has moved from being called the services provider to a center for innovation,” Sri Mosur, CEO, Global Drug Discovery and Development, Jubilant Life Sciences, told India-West.
The event drew attendance from leading Indian officials from the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Department of Biotechnology and the Government of India. It was stated that the Government of India has increased its total research and development spending from one to two percent of its GDP.
To support industry-academic interaction, the Indian union cabinet recently approved a Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council. Their mission is to make India globally competitive in biotech innovation, to support entrepreneurship and to create affordable products and services.
Boston Consulting Group’s informational presentation, called “Moving the Needle on Innovation: Delivering Affordable Innovation Through Global Partnerships,” dealt with how India has a lot of potential but is in need of a supportive environment with respect to advocacy, policy and infrastructure.
“We have success stories of running clinical trials that are published in Lancet in India. India has the sixth largest population in the global economy. Companies are welcome to India, but we just need to learn what India is for things to work there,” Dr. Rajeev I. Modi, the managing director of Cadila Pharmaceuticals, told India-West.
Karun Rishi, president of the USA-India Chamber of Commerce, kicked off the summit with a message to bring about clinical regulations in India and give oncology more opportunity while not allowing Indian patients to suffer the consequences of limited regulations.
"(The) goal is to provide affordable innovation by working in partnership, which is simple but not easy. Once the solutions to the problems are brought about, it will be a role model for global partnerships,” Dr. William Chin, executive dean for research at Harvard Medical School, told India-West.
Dr. Elias Zerhouni, president of Global Research and Development at Sanofi, in his keynote speech said he believed that India can provide high quality care at low cost, with its large talent pools in IT, engineering, biology and medicine. He noted that U.S.-India partnerships can be a win-win situation for translational drug discovery and can help to provide treatments for human diseases globally to people who have no access to it currently. The overall message was that there is a need for open innovation and the creation of a research ecosystem. It is not possible for one entity to solve the complexity of finding solutions for human diseases. In order for the discussion to be fruitful, it needs to bring in ideas on growing India-U.S. R&D relationships.
There were several panel discussions on industry-academia partnerships, clinical research, drug R&D and collaborations, funding innovation and investment opportunities in emerging markets, and oncology-science and research trends. All the panels included distinguished personalities in their respective fields from both the United States and India
“In partnerships the element of suspicion has to be removed to move things forward,” said Dr. Nirmal Ganguly, chairman of Jipmer and former director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research. Jipmer is the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research.
The main question addressed at the summit was how to bridge the wide gap between continents, within academia and with industry. Dr. Barbara Bierer, senior vice president of research and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is spearheading a team of American corporate leaders, research institution representatives and government officials to help build a system for the transfer of technology and training needed for building a highly functioning research and development ecosystem.
If successful in India, this system could act as a role model for entire world. The program, Multi Regional Clinical Trials Initiative, was recently launched at Harvard. “(It is a) wonderful time to collaborate with India. The portfolio is robust, despite many hurdles,” said Dr. Roger Glass, director of the Fogarty International Center at the National Institute of Health, who has been involved in rotavirus research in India for the last three decades, which has led to the creation of world’s least expensive vaccine.