Wednesday, 15 December 2004

Research problems: IICT may not benefit from oral insulin development

2004
Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 15: The city-based Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, which is instrumental in the development of oral insulin delivery system, may not benefit much financially from the innovative research what with a private pharma company claiming all credit for the new drug.
The world pharma market is going to witness a heavy demand for oral insulin as and when the new drug delivery system is introduced after human trials. India, China and the USA are the potential markets for oral insulin as these three countries are regarded as the "diabetes capitals" of the world. Patients now dependent on insulin injections will shift to oral insulin as the latter system does not involve pain or health risks.
The IICT provided its state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to Transgene Biotek Limited under a partnership programme for research and development of oral insulin drug delivery system. The CSIR lab also extended its scientific manpower to the private pharma company. All the in vivo tests of the new drug system have been carried out at the IICT. Transgene spent less than Rs 1 crore on the project, besides sending half a dozen scientists to the lab for research.
However, under the agreement reached at between IICT and Transgene, the former will get just 10 per cent of the royalty while 90 per cent of the profits will be cornered by the private pharma unit. Since the IICT has been instrumental in the preparation of new system, it should be entitled to at least 50 per cent of the royalty.
The pharmacology division of the IICT is one of the few laboratories in the country to possess expertise in the development and characterisation of novel drug delivery systems for transdermal, liposomal, nano particle systems, oral delivery of vaccines and colon specific delivery systems. Transgene simply utilised one of these facilities.
Human trials on insulin are going to begin shortly. It will take at least three years for the drug to be formally launched in the world market. Transgene managing director Dr K Koteswara Rao said "we hope to be the first in the world to launch the novel drug delivery system for administering oral insulin. This kind of oral delivery of insulin is a boon to the diabetics, thus avoiding painful injections every day".
According to sources, Transgene has rushed through the press conference to announce the new drug delivery system even though the IICT directed it not to do so in a hurry. IICT suggested that the trial should be validated by an independent organisation before making any announcement.
Insulin account for a massive 62.1 per cent share of sales in total European diabetes medications market worth 2000 million US dollars and it is expected to reach 3,800 million US dollars by 2009. The WHO estimates that between 10 and 12 per cent of the urban Indian population and four to six per cent of the rural population are diabetic. Further amongst the Indian population both diabetes and ischaemic heart disease occur atleast a decade younger than in other populations. In this background, IICT will suffer heavily in terms of monetary benefits because of its 10 per cent royalty share while Transgene will make a fortune with 90 per cent royalty from the new drug.

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