| TUBE TRUTHS
Mumbai, Dec. 25: Global pharmaceutical companies are flocking to India to conduct clinical trials for their drugs. This trend is catching on because of a multi-racial population, a talented pool of qualified professionals and reputed institutions in the country.
Multinational firms like GlaxoSmithkline, Pfizer, Novartis and AstraZeneca are already conducting clinical research in the country. However, observers expect a dramatic increase in the activity in the near future with the entry of new players looking for low-cost research facilities.
The US-based Merck & Co, operating in the country as MSD India, will conduct clinical trials on its investigational cervical cancer vaccine ' Gardasil. It has joined hands with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for the purpose. Both the partners will initially design a study to assess the use of Gardasil for the local population.
Merck will also supply the Gardasil to be used in the study. After completing the study, the partners will assess the role of the vaccine in the local population and identify ways to make it accessible. The tie-up is part of Merck's plan to develop a model in India by working with collaborators and replicating the same in other developing nations.
Gardasil is designed to protect against four types of human papilloma virus (HPV), which account for an estimated 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases.
About 510,000 cases of cervical cancer are reported each year with nearly 80 per cent occurring in developing countries. World Health Organisation (WHO) figures say that cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer in India with more than 130,000 new cases reported each year and 74,000 women dying annually from the disease.
Merck's initiative follows that of GlaxoSmithkline and Pfizer, which have been anchored in the country for long and have been engaged in some form of clinical research as well. But their plans do not end there.
Glaxo, which has vaccines for gastro-enteritis, malaria, TB, dengue fever and typhoid, is planning to conduct clinical trials for a vaccine to treat cervical cancer in India.
Similarly, Pfizer India, which launched the Viagra only last week, is also conducting human clinical trials on new uses of sildenafil citrate, the compound that goes into the anti-impotency drug.