India lags behind in terms of commercially-oriented innovation, R&D and discovery of drug modules

Inefficient clinical research, low productivity, low learning and study curve, lack of facilities and trained investigators, etc. have stalled the discovery of new drug molecules, reveals Nikkhil K Masurkar, Executive Director, ENTOD Pharmaceuticals to Express Pharma, in an exclusive interaction, while also elaborating on the various aspects of his firm
Read Article

Tell us about your company in brief, along with the recent product launches (if any, associated with the COVID-19 treatment).

Established in 1977 by G V Masurkar, ENTOD is one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies in the Ophthalmic ENT segment in different markets around the world, with over forty years of specialised expertise in product development and manufacturing.

We have recently ventured into the medical cosmetics market through a joint-venture with NuSkin London – a research initiative of ENTOD Research Cell UK, which aims to improve skin formulation research and create innovative dermatological solutions.

We also have projects in motion to expand into the ophthalmic surgical segment by launching our HyTek Division, which will deal with surgical products. We have also facilitated rapid advances in the ophthalmic and ENT segment with our range of research-based pharmaceutical products. Our COVID-19-essential for cataract surgery, Phenocaine Plus Intracameral Mydiatric injection, helps to achieve rapid and stable pupillary dilatation without using pre-operative dilating eye drops and sustained intraocular anaesthesia for pain-free surgery and better surgical outcomes. An innovative micronised ocular suspension technology developed by us offers better formulation stability, greater bioavailability, more accurate dosing and reduced ocular irritation.

Being the pharmacy of the world, how competent/advanced is the Indian pharmaceutical industry when it comes to the discovery of new drug molecules?

India is referred to as the ‘pharmacy of the world’ for plenty of reasons. The country accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the generics demand in the US and 25 per cent of all medicines in the United Kingdom. The country also fulfils about 80 per cent of global demand for anti-retroviral drugs for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Moreover, Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers export nearly half of their pharma production, both in terms of volume and value, to the UK, US, South Africa, Russia and other countries. However, despite these achievements, India still lags behind in terms of commercially-oriented innovation, R&D and discovery of drug modules.

Discovery of a new drug molecule is a long-term commitment and majority of pharma companies tend to invest low because of the high costs and risks involved. Other than that, there are various reasons such as inefficient clinical research, low productivity, low learning and study curve, lack of facilities and trained investigators, etc. that have stalled the discovery of new drug molecules. With the government re-focussing its attention on discovering new drug molecules and R&D in pharma, we are hopeful of a boost in drug discovery over the coming years.

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, what kind of challenges did your company face? How did you overcome those? What impact did the pandemic have on your company’s revenue growth?

During these uncertain times, we are responding to the rapid challenges arising from disruption in supply chains and the need to change business processes. There is also the potential for adverse impacts of both a medium- and longer-term nature on R&D and manufacturing activities, as well as delay on projects/programmes that are not related to the core supply chain/data management operations.

We have had to adapt our business processes in the fastest-possible time in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak that allowed us to minimise disruption to our sales operations. Moving our field sales team to completely online monitoring systems also helped us to understand the movements in the market better and adapt accordingly. Despite the obvious disruptions, the pandemic did not have any impact on our company’s revenue growth, which continued an upward trend compared to the previous fiscal year.

The Centre has come up with the Product Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme recently that tends to make India self-reliant for the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Your comments? Furthermore, does this scheme help your company in any way?

The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme is certainly going to reduce our dependence on imports for APIs. Due to our over-dependency on China for supply of raw materials, any sort of disruption can bring a huge concern. With the PLI scheme, India will not only attract investments from foreign countries, but also help domestic companies in the development of high-tech and complex products, in-vitro diagnostic devices and emerging therapies. Bulk drug parks will help in the integration of infrastructure facilities, thereby reducing the manufacturing cost of APIs. Bulk drugs parks that’ll aim to address approval and infrastructure issues, will also ease business operation.

Since we are not directly involved in the manufacturing of APIs, this scheme has no immediate relevance to us directly. However, it should certainly improve the availability and cost of APIs required for the manufacturing of our finished products and reducing production delays in the medium-to-long term.

How robust is your global presence? What are your targets for the next five years, and the strategy to achieve those?

Our range of ENT, ophthalmic and dermatology medicines cater to the needs of patients all over the world. Our pharmaceutical products are sold across 55 countries which include the UK, the EU, Asia and Africa. We use quality systems that have been certified in Europe and maintain international GMP norms in our manufacturing quality standards. We have also affiliated with over 50 ophthalmic societies (including many international societies like World Society of Paediatric Opthalmology and Strabismus (WSPOS), World Glaucoma Association (WGA), International Society of Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgeons (ISMSICS), etc and supported over 500 webinars to update skills and knowledge of ophthalmic fraternities.

Moreover, as mentioned earlier, we have entered into the market of medical cosmetics through a joint venture with NuSkin London. Our innovative skin and medical cosmetics are now available in selected markets. In addition, we have projects in motion to expand in the ophthalmic surgical segment within the next two-to-three years by launching our HyTek Division, which will deal with surgical products.

The strategy is to expand our field sales force exponentially in the coming months and years, along with the continuous launch of new products in the market.

ENTOD PharmaHyTek DivisionNikkhil K MasurkarNuSkin LondonPLI scheme
Comments (0)
Add Comment