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International Clinical Trials

Another Sunrise in Sight?

Sumanth Kambhammettu at Frost & Sullivan investigates whether India can fully exploit its reputation as the next big thing in clinical trials outsourcing, or if it will inevitably lose ground to the Asian and Latin American contenders

A few decades ago, the idea of outsourcing clinical trials to India would have seemed blasphemous. A number of concerns existed, such as the quality of data and the lack of standard ethical practices, which made the West shun the idea for a long time. However, with the blistering pace of development in the global pharmaceutical clinical trials industry and the high costs associated with bringing a molecule to market, it is not surprising that the West started looking at India as an attractive destination for clinical trials outsourcing.

And why not? After all, apart from its vast geographical area and genetic diversity, India offers a multitude of other advantages such as highly skilled medical professionals, IT enabled infrastructure and so on, at a far lower cost than most developing nations. According to an estimate by McKinsey & Co, the Indian clinical trials market is projected to reach a total value of approximately $2 billion by 2010, involving both direct clinical trials by pharmaceutical companies, as well as those from contract research organisations (CROs).

Amidst all the hype and hoopla, one cannot afford to ignore the ill-effects of this phenomenon. Every pharmaceutical company worth its salt realises the perils of looking at just one side of the coin. The Indian clinical trials rollercoaster has led to some serious questions, such as: Have Indians become guinea pigs for the West? Is all the research that is being carried out in India ethical?

Concerns such as these and many more need to be addressed to keep the momentum of this industry going, and to ensure that India does not lose out to other emerging nations, such as China, Taiwan, Eastern Europe and Latin America, who are all vying to find their footing in the slippery world of clinical trials outsourcing.


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Sumanth Kambhammettu is a Research Analyst in Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology at Frost & Sullivan. He joined Frost & Sullivan, Chennai in November 2005 as a Research Trainee with the pharmaceutical-biotechnology team for the EMEA Healthcare Practice. His work profile involves development of market engineering research services, and strategic analysis services tracking the European pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector. He did his internship in the R&D division of Ipca Laboratories, Mumbai, where he was involved in the formulation development of an oral anti-diabetic for the US market. Sumanth has a B-Pharm (Hons) degree from the Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani, India.
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Sumanth Kambhammettu
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