Dr Harsh Vardhan Announces Imminent Drug Research Breakthroughs

Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan, announced that the Indian pharmaceuticals sector would soon be showcasing 'candidate drugs' for malaria, osteoporosis and diabetes. He said with further R&D, important breakthroughs could be on the horizon for effective panacea for these conditions.

Speaking after a visit to the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) a wing of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in Lucknow today, he remarked that Indian R&D efforts in government laboratories like CSIR-CDRI, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad), CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (CSIR-IICB, Kolkata), CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM, Jammu), CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTECH, Chandigarh) and CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL, Pune) have a track record in making drugs for Kala Azar, Filaria, Leprosy and Tuberculosis available at affordable rates to the common man.

The "candidate drugs" are currently undergoing clinical trials. He further announced that simultaneously, CSIR-CDRI is carrying out Investigational New Drug (IND) studies on lead molecules for fracture-healing, cancers, thrombosis, malaria and hyperglycemia.

The Minister said, "I am confident that the drug laboratories under CSIR are capable of backing up the Swasth Bharat Mission. Our scientists are focusing on both infectious and life-style diseases. We are developing next generation drugs, biologics, biosimilars, gene therapeutics, stem cell therapeutics, personalised medicine and multifunctional nanomedicine.

Recently, CSIR-IMTECH, Chandigarh has developed a clot specific streptokinase. CSIR-IIIM, Jammu has discovered natural product-based potential medicine for rheumatoid arthritis. CSIR-IICB, Kolkata has developed an herbal extract for the treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia.

"I am certain that India has the potential of becoming a global pharmaceutical powerhouse and is in the process of putting some key enablers in place. These include giving the right incentives for R&D, forging alliances with the private sector and keeping an open mind on suggestions for fiscal relief to the private sector so that its role in R&D is enhanced," the Minister said.

He said that in recent months he has visited a number of CSIR laboratories and is convinced that they have the competencies for new drug discovery and development including clinical trials, and has played a major role over the last six decades in the growth of pharmaceutical industry and education in India.

Earlier, addressing scientists at the CSIR-CDRI auditorium here, he made it clear that the Prime Minister is committed to making India one of the world's leading destinations for end-to-end drug discovery and innovation by 2020. "Strengthening of the R&D ecosystem is the priority", he added.

He also emphasized that the people of India are expecting that CSIR laboratories would be able to produce therapeutic and preventive measures for re-emerged infectious diseases like Dengue, Chikunguniya, Encephalitis, Swine Flu as well as conditions like Cancer, Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Hypertension, Depression and Ulcers.

The Minister thanked representatives of the pharmaceutical private sector who were present on the occasion for supporting CSIR labs in bringing the products from the laboratory to the market.

Today, India ranks third in terms of volume of production with 10 percent share of the global market by volume and 14th largest by value. India is often dubbed the "Pharmacy of Developing World".

Dr Harsh Vardhan however pointed out that India still has a long way to go in Pharma R&D. Moreover, in India pharma needs to move from a phase of manufacturing to innovation. He expressed concern over the fact that currently, new drug R&D in India is mostly an affair of government organisations.

"I request industry representatives to collaborate with CSIR laboratories in new drug R&D. The Prime Minister has given a call for Make in India. We need to generate millions of jobs in a couple of years because this country has a youth bulge. Seamless partnership will help develop products and technologies for the benefit of the common man," he pointed out. In this context licensing of a new botanical product CDR4744F004 for osteoporosis and Centbucridine (Local anaesthetic), a new antithrombotic compound S007-867 and anti-stroke chemotype of Ashwagandha (NMITLI118RT+) are steps in right direction, the minister said.

He announced that Government would soon set up the Biopharma Industry Incubator (BII) under the umbrella of CSIR-CDRI, Lucknow. It would strive to build a new generation of enterprises in the health care sector.

The S&T Ministry is also considering setting up Government Laboratory Practices (GLP)-certified labs in CSIR-CDRI for complete range of Investigational New Drug (IND) studies. He said the step would foster new drug development as well as shore up the financial bottom line of the laboratory.

Further, the Minister announced the formation of a National Centre for Laboratory Animals in the CSIR-CDRI new campus conforming to national and international guidelines. The new institution would serve as a referral centre for lab animal breeding and experimentation for new drug development.