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Top Ten Biotech Companies in India
chillibreeze writer — Amit Ray
Long overshadowed by the dazzling IT industry, India’s biotech sector is finally poised to storm the business world. Powered by growing competence in producing low cost innovative as well as generic drugs and vaccines, the Indian biotech firms are fast becoming global majors, promising to create substantial opportunities for the for the Indian economy. The government has also come out with enabling policies, allowing these firms to exploit India’s vast pool of technical and scientific manpower to make a global impact.
The evolution is already showing in the numbers. Revenues from the biotech sector touched US$ 2 billion during 2006-07, up from US$ 800 million generated during 2003-04. Backed by an average growth in excess of 35% per year, the industry seems confident to meet the revenue target of US$ 5 billion by 2010. The Indian Government’s Department of biotechnology also expects annual sales of the biotech sector to cross US$ 25 billion by 2015.
Presently, there are about 350 biotech companies in India, 53% of which are in the state of Karnataka. Bangalore alone has about 135 firms, making the city a biotech hub of the country. The biotechnology space in India basically comprises of the bio-pharma, bio-agri, and bio-industrial firms. The growth and revenue performance of the top ten biotech companies of India (as ranked by the BioSpectrum magazine) during 2005 and 2006 is given below:
Source: BioSpectrum Magazine, www.biospectrum.ciol.com
The company ranking for the years 2005 and 2006 reveals strong competition among the major players in the industry. For example, companies like Monsanto and Rasi Seeds were not among the top ten in the year 2005, but made their way in the list of toppers in 2006, displacing reputed firms like Aventis Pharma and Santha Biotech. This clearly demonstrates growing skills and competence across the biotech spectrum, and should be considered a good sign for the future of the industry. Another striking feature is that although bio-pharma companies still dominate the top league, in terms of revenue and profitability, it is the bio-agri companies that are growing the quickest. Does it signify a shift in the traditional ways and methods of Indian agriculture?
Given below is a snapshot of the major activities and expansion plans of top biotech firms of India:
(i) Serum Institute of India:
The Institute is engaged in serious research on Measles vaccine on Human Diploid Cells; industrial column chromatography and affinity chromatography for separation of immunoglobulins; Human Diploid Cells and Rabies vaccine; efficacy of Human growth hormone (rDNA)-SAIZEN in pre-pubertal children with growth hormone deficiency, etc.
(Source: www.seruminstitute.com, Company Annual report, 2006).
Biocon launched the world’s first recombinant human insulin, INSUGEN, in 2004. It also produced India’s first indigenous monocional antibody BIOMA-EGFRTM . The company has recently divested its enzymes business and decided to concentrate on its bio-pharma business verticals that include APIs, biologicals and proprietary molecules. The company is now focusing on several futuristic projects like microbial fermentation (both submerged and solid state), chemicals synthesis, human insulin and mammalian cell culture.
(iii) Panacea Biotech:
Some popular medicines produced by Panacea Biotech include Nimulid tablets and gels, Betaglim, Glizaid range of medicines, Monovalent oral polio type I and type III vaccines, Ocimix, etc
(iv) Monsanto Biotech:
(v) Rasi Seeds:
(vi) Venkateshwara Hatcheries:
Major activities/milestones of the VH group include use of specific pathogen free eggs in the manufacture of poultry vaccines; production of specific pathogen free eggs in India; manufacture of automated poultry equipment; introduction of combined and inactivated (killed) vaccines; setting up of sophisticated disease diagnostic, surveillance and monitoring laboratories, etc.
(vii) Novo Nordisk:
Besides diabetes care, the company is also engaged in further research in the fields of growth hormone therapy and haemostasis management.
Tulip Group comprises eight independent diagnostic companies - Tulip Diagnostics (P) Ltd, Microxpress, Orchid Biomedical Systems, Coral Clinical Systems, Qualpro Diagnostics, Tulip Marketing (P) Ltd, Zephyr Biomedicals and Lilac Medicare (P) Ltd. These companies are engaged in specific areas of research, development and design systems, and platforms within the assigned technological areas. At present, the company is concentrating on Immunohaematology, Immunology (Fertility, Rheumatology, Infectious Diseases), Immunoturbidimetry, Haemostasis, Haematology, Clinical Microbiology, Parasitology, Virology, Cardiac and Cancer Markers, Clinical Biochemistry and Instrumentation.
(ix) Indian Immunologicals:
(x) Transasia Biomedicals:
Thus, the Indian biotech sector is coming of age. However, there are a few potential pitfalls down the road that everyone must be aware of. One can notice a distinct preference for outsourcing and contract research at this point of time. Companies, however, should stick to basics and keep their focus on original R&D and innovation. They should not depend too much on the growing trend of contract farming and research. Outsourcing can fetch more money for biotech firms alright, but it may also blunt their inherent comparative advantage in the long run, unless complemented by original research. It’s time to be confident, but vigilant.
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