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The Economic Times
11 February 2009
Mumbai, India

Piramal Life Sciences, the listed research and development (R&D) subsidiary of Piramal Healthcare, is hoping to hit the market with its first New Chemical Entity (NCE) by 2011. The company is currently developing drugs in oncology, diabetes, inflammation disorders and anti–infectives. Piramal Life Sciences was hived off as a separate entity in May 2008. This was done to segregate research from the company’s contract manufacturing and generic businesses.

“We have received encouraging results from our molecules, which are in various phases of clinical trials. The molecule (P276) for head and neck cancer, mantle cell lymphoma, malignant melanoma and multiple myeloma is in three phase II clinical trials and one phase I/II clinical trial in India, the US and Australia. There is no drugs which treat head and neck cancer with minimum side–effects and our aim is to tap this market worldwide,” Somesh Sharma, managing director of Piramal Life Sciences told ET.

Piramal Healthcare is one of the largest custom manufacturing companies in India with a global footprint of assets across North America, Europe and Asia. It operates two divisions, healthcare solutions and pharma solutions. The pharmaceutical market for head and neck cancer is estimated at $400 million a year with no treatments other than chemotherapy and radiation.

It is the sixth most common cause of cancer worldwide, affecting approximately six lakh people a year. NPB 00105, another cancer drug from their stable, is in phase I/II clinical trials for Gleevac resistant chronic myeloid leukaemia.

“We hope to be financial viable by 2010 at the earliest or by 2011. Currently, all our funding comes from the parent company as well as the collaborations that we have,” said Mr Sharma. The company has long–term collaborations with US–based Merck & Co to develop oncology–based drugs. They are identifying the molecules and will enter phase I clinical trails by end–2009. The company is currently collaborating with Eli Lilly in the area of diabetes and metabolic disorders.

“P1201, a compound from our collaboration with Lilly, is about to complete phase 1 studies, while P 2202, also a compound from Lilly collaboration, is in phase 1 studies in Canada. P1736, a non PPAR insulin sensitise, has completed phase 1 studies in Europe,” said Mr Sharma.

Analysts say that the company could tap a huge market for type 2 diabetic treatment and P1736 will hit the market soon. Industry experts estimate that the Indian type 2 diabetes drug market will double from $504 million in 2007 to more than $1.1 billion by 2012.

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