India's Biocon held a busy earnings call on Jan. 23 that highlighted extensive spending on research and keeping several deals rolling, though tight-lipped on a possible license to make Gilead's chronic hepatitis C products and said it will sell a 10% to 15% stake in its research services arm Syngene through an initial public offering.
Biocon intends to build a new facility in Vizag, India, for manufacturing insulin products. It is a turnabout for the Indian company, which went to Malaysia with its first insulin facility, in part, over concerns that India was falling behind in providing dependable infrastructure to the pharma industry.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder and managing director of India's Biocon, has had an interesting 36-year journey from brew master to biosimilars maker. She says her vision has always been for Biocon to affect global health in a big way.
As many drugmakers scale down their R&D presences in India, Bristol-Myers Squibb is strengthening its relationship with Syngene, the CRO arm of local giant Biocon.
Novartis, already in a legal battle to try to keep India's Wockhardt from launching a generic of its diabetes blockbuster Galvus, says it is now trying to prevent Biocon from doing the same thing.
Last year, Roche appeared to throw in the towel on its breast cancer drug Herceptin in India when it said it would not defend the patent there. But it has come back out swinging with a court action that has messed with this week's launch of a biosimilar from Mylan.
Mylan turned to India's Biocon last year for expertise on making biosimilars. This year, the generic drug maker is turning to Biocon for someone to run its extensive operations in that country.
Mylan said today that it and Indian biologics partner Biocon have nabbed the first approval in India and will have a biosimilar of Herceptin (trastuzumab) ready to roll out early next year.
Syngene, the CRO arm of Indian biotech giant Biocon, is poised to swell about 20% a year, CEO Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said, making it the continent's fastest-growing service provider.
India, facing its worst economic crisis in two decades, has in recent years invested little in basic infrastructure like power, water and roads. These shortcomings are forcing some of its most successful drugmakers to look outside the country when they need new manufacturing sites.