Gilead prowls India for partners, growth

More proof that India, et al, is where it's at: Gilead Sciences is scouting the subcontinent for contract-manufacturing partners. The company also is eyeing R&D partnerships there, SVP Greg Alton told the Wall Street Journal, and wants to license more of its drugs to Indian pharma firms. And it's looking at mechanisms for selling its Viread HIV med there at a "very low cost."

As the Journal notes, India is the new frontier for U.S. and European drugmakers looking to cut costs. Manufacturing costs are 30 percent to 40 percent lower there, and there are plenty of workers with high-tech and chemistry training. So it's no wonder that India has the largest number of FDA-approved factories outside the U.S.

In 2006, Gilead gave nonexclusive licenses to 10 Indian drugmakers to produce the active ingredient in Viread and another of its HIV meds, Truvada. One of those companies, Piramal Healthcare, has already asked Indian regulators for approval to sell branded and generic versions of Viread, Alton said, adding that Gilead hopes Viread gets the OK later this year.

- read the article in the WSJ
- see Jim Cramer's take