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Generic firm Dr Reddy's opens its first European R&D base

Published on 15/06/07 at 03:37pm

Dr Reddy's Laboratories plans to become an R&D-based company are picking up pace with the opening of its first European drug development office.

The Indian generics firm has also appointed a new global drug development chief with big pharma experience, but says it is at least four years away from seeing a home-grown product reach the market.

Since its foundation in Dr Anji Reddy's garage in 1984, Dr Reddy's Laboratories has grown into India's second-largest pharma company.

As a result of acquisitions and aggressive patent challenges to some of big pharma's biggest selling drugs revenues increased to $1.5 billion in 2006, up from $563 million in 2005.

Its European product portfolio includes cheap copies of Prozac, Losec and Risperdal, but the company has long-harboured ambitions of becoming an innovation business, recognising such a move is necessary if it is to take the next step in its ambitious expansion plans.

An important part of this strategy is establishing a European R&D base, which it has just set up at a site in Slough in the UK, also home to its new European headquarters. Slough joins Dr Reddy's existing research facilities in Atlanta in the US and Hyderabad in India.

At present the US focuses on discovering new molecular targets and screening promising candidates, with India then selecting and optimising molecules.

Overseeing development of these will be Dr Rajinder Kumar, who was recently appointed president of research, development and commercialisation.

A graduate of the University of Dundee in the UK and fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, Dr Kumar has experience on both the big pharma and the generics sides of the industry.

Most notably he has spent a large part of his career at GlaxoSmithKline holding various senior research positions, including VP and global head of psychiatry. Dr Kumar has also served as president of R&D at Ranbaxy, one of Dr Reddy's Indian generic company rivals.

Vice chairman and chief executive GV Prasad said: "Dr Kumar joins us at an exciting time. He brings in rich experience and the necessary management bandwidth to consolidate our new chemical entity research and drug development efforts."

The company is currently conducting research into diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and bacterial infections and has seven NCEs in development, five of which have entered the clinic.

The most advanced of these is balaglitazone. The partial PPARg modulator for type II diabetes is due to enter phase III trials shortly and is being developed Denmark's Rheosciences, but Dr Reddy's has yet to sign up a marketing partner.

Earlier this year, GV Prasad told Pharmafocus it would be a while before Dr Reddy's could make the transition from generics firm to innovation-based company.

"We have a pipeline, but it's going to take several years to get to market  we're at least four to five years away from bringing our own medicine to the market," he said.

In his new role, Dr Kumar will lead and integrate Dr Reddy's discovery research, global drug development and commercialisation efforts.

At the same time as developing a presence in the branded ethical market, Dr Reddy's plans to grow its generics business.

In Europe, this was boosted by the acquisition of Betapharm, the fourth-largest generics company in Germany for $584 million. Dr Reddy's also has a sales and marketing office in the UK, a marketing office in Spain and its future plans include opening offices in Italy and then France.

Such a blurring of the line between pursing some patents while protecting others is not unheard of.- Israeli generics company Teva followed a similar path, launching its multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone in 2000, and Novartis manages a sizable generics presence alongside its R&D-based business.



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