India a popular destination for clinical research

April 4th, 2008 - 10:41 am ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 4 (IANS) India has emerged as a popular destination for clinical research, overtaking China, and is cheaper too, says a Planning Commission report. The market value of clinical trial research outsourced to India is estimated at around $300 million, with projected revenues of $1.5-2 billion by 2010.

Global pharmaceutical companies are outsourcing 139 trials to India, as compared to 98 being undertaken in China, the report released Wednesday by Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia said.

The increased trial flow to India is based on several fundamental strengths like good hospitals, competent medical professionals, diverse genetic pool and large patient pools with diseases ranging from heart diseases, diabetes and psychiatric disorders, which are also prevalent in industrialised countries.

The cost of conducting research in India ranges between 20 and 60 percent of the cost in industrialised countries, it said. Clinical researchers, nurses and IT staff can be hired at less than a third of wages in the industrialised countries.

However, it said, though the “prospects for outsourcing of clinical research by global pharmaceutical companies look bright, there are a number of problems that need attention”. India was hampered by a glaring lack of critical infrastructure like accreditation to international laboratories and shortage of research personnel.

It said “there are weaknesses in the regulatory infrastructure and the Office of the Drugs Controller is understaffed and lacking in capacity to deal with such new areas as stem cell research and GM food”.

The suggestions were made by a high level Planning Commission group, headed by Anwarul Hoda, member (International Economics). The group was set up by the commission to examine the different aspects influencing the performances of the services sector and suggest short- and long-term policies to improve and sustain its competitiveness in the coming years.

Noting the lack of a world-class testing laboratory for validation of tests, the report said though the National Accreditation Board for Laboratories provides accreditation to labs, it has no international standing.

It said there is a “looming shortage of clinical research personnel, estimated at 30,000 to 50,000″. “We need more trial investigators, auditors, personnel to serve on Ethics Committees, Data Safety Management Boards and personnel in other categories,” the report said.

Considering the shortage of trained personnel as the biggest challenge for improving the country’s competitiveness, it recommended that a Clinical and Medical Research Council be established with the help of the private sector to formulate, promote and run training programmes.

The report said India’s research is relatively small in size compared to the global clinical trial industry estimated at around $30 billion.

It said the reasons for India emerging as a popular destination for clinical research is because it has put in position world-class laws on Intellectual Property Rights and the government has established complete framework of rules for conducting clinical trials in the country.

Currently, 20 clinical research organisations and 80 government and private hospitals are engaged in clinical trails for global and local clients, the report said.

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