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Ranbaxy readies biotech prescription

New Delhi, Jan. 29: Pharma major Ranbaxy is busy charting out the roadmap for its venture into the field of biotechnology. By the end of May, the company will be ready with its long-term action plan for biotech products.

The company has formed a team of specialists headed by Kulwinder Saini to chalk out a programme for its biotechnology ventures. Their suggestions will form the basis for the preparation of business plans for investment in research for biotech products.

The first presentation of this group is slated for February 27. The team, which has about half a dozen scientists and an equal number of dedicated researchers, is going to submit its first report on April 1.

“By the end of March, every senior manager will be invited for a detailed discussion on BT products,” said Bimal K Raizada, senior vice president, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd (RLL).

The domestic pharmaceutical major has already identified areas within biotechnology where it will conduct initial research. These include genomics and proteomics. Genomics is the study of DNA and the cell structure in the body whereas proteomics is the study of the reactions that various compounds like drugs and chemicals have on cells. Also on the radar is the area of bio-informatic-data assimilation pertaining to BT.

Besides these two areas, the company is going to develop DNA-based bio-pharmaceuticals and vaccines. The market for biotech products in India is very small at present but is poised to grow by leaps and bounds in the years to come, say analysts.

Most of the products in biotechnology research will be developed in -house though the company is also evaluating strategic tie-ups with other partners to speed up licensing and development process.

Ranbaxy made its small foray into the BT domain last October when it entered into a tie-up with Aventis of Germany to import and market their anti-rabies vaccine.

“There is a market for BT products and, if we do not get into this area, others will. As a major domestic pharmaceutical company, we do not want to lose out on the potential of the BT products,” said Raizada.

However, the company refuses to say how much it intends to invest in the biotech business. “Right now it is an evaluatory stage for this frontier technology area; the projects will be chosen after studying their feasibility, said Raizada.

He said that initially Ranbaxy was interested in developing an anti-IDS vaccine, but dropped the idea three months back when its internal evaluation pointed out the need for a seven-year development followed by a five-year testing time and a cost of about $ 200 million.

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