The biotech industry has crossed the $2-billion mark. With exports surpassing the $1.2 billion mark, the industry registered nearly 31 percent growth

Globalization, alliances, investments, and product launches have been the trend of biotechnology industry in the last year. The biotech industry has recorded $2.08 billion (Rs 8,541 core) in revenues, registering 30.98 percent growth, over the previous year's figure of Rs 6,521 crore ($1.45 billion). Sustaining a 30 percent growth for five continuous years, and that too on a figure of Rs 6,521 crore, The exports revenue was $1.2 billion (Rs 4,937 crore) accounting for almost 58 percent of the total revenues generated by the biotech industry.

 Indian biotech consist of five distinct segments i.e.– biopharma, bioagriculture, bioinformatics, bioindustrial and bioservices. Biopharma segment accounts for over two-thirds of the industry.  In 2006-07, Biopharma sales is more than $1.45 billion (Rs 5,973 crore), accounting for 71 percent of the total industry revenues. The biopharma sector registered 26.87 percent growth.

Bioservices has contributed Rs 1,102 crore, registering 53 percent growth. The bioagriculture sector grew by 54.85 percent to Rs 926 crore. Rasi Seeds and Nuziveedu Seeds accounted for 60 percent share of this market. There is scope for more transgenic bioagriculture product in the market.

The bioindustrial sector recorded a marginal growth of 5.33 percent to grow to Rs 395 crore in sales. Novozymes and Biocon accounted for 50 percent of the total bioindustrial market. The bioinformatics sector grew by 20.83 percent to Rs 120 crore in sales.

The investments (both in R&D and infrastructure) in the biotech industry have been on the rise over the past five years. In 2006-07, the investments crossed Rs 2,270 crore, up by almost 38 percent compared to the previous fiscal. The research intensive biotech industry currently employs about 20,000 scientists and is concentrated in six major clusters in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune-Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad-Vadodara.

India is generating trained manpower and knowledge base for manufacturing activities. Government initiatives through streamlined regulatory framework and policies and fiscal benefits are supporting high-level research programmes. The approval path of biogenerics has been smoothened; the national biotech strategy is awaiting final approval and other regulatory hurdles are being cleared. The industry requires clear guidelines on transgenic food products.

Global alliances and merger and acquisition efforts has been the trend this year. Some of the alliances and merger are as follows:

Merieux Alliance has acquired a majority stake in Shantha Biotechnics Ltd, which is focused on vaccines, therapeutic proteins and monoclonal antibodies.

Panacea Biotec, the second largest vaccine producer of India, signed an agreement with PT Bio Farma, Indonesia, to manufacture and market the measles vaccine.

Reliance Life Sciences Pvt Ltd (RLS), plans to invest Rs 279 crore in GeneMedix, a UK-based biopharmaceutical company. 

Serum Institute Ltd, has picked up a 14 percent stake in the UK-based Lipoxen, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of differentiated biologicals, vaccines and oncology drugs. Serum Institute also entered into another agreement with Akorn of the US for definitive development and exclusive distribution rights for rabies monoclonal antibody.

Biocon's Syngene entered into a research partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb to provide R&D services for discovery and early drug development.

Wockhardt has signed an in- licensing agreement with Advanced Biotechnologies of USA to market Kelocote, a patent protected product to treat scars.

Alembic Ltd has entered into a licensing agreement with Brussels-based UCB for its novel drug delivery platform, Keppra XR (Levetiracetam Extended Release Tablets).

According to Indian GMO Research Information System (IGMORIS), recombinant products approved for marketing in India has increased to 17 compared to 12 in 2005-06. Several new and innovative products have been launched.

e.g Serum Institute of India Ltd has launched its indigenously developed HIB vaccine. It has a capacity to produce over 100 million doses of the vaccine. Biocon launched BIOMAb-EGFR, a therapeutic monoclonal antibody-based drug for treating solid tumors of epithelial origin, such as head and neck cancers in September 2006. This is an indigenously developed product. Panacea Biotec launched Siropan for renal disease management, Lower A for dyslipidaemia, Myelogen Forte and Inrica for neuropathy, TOFF Expectorant and Toff DC for cough and cold, Upright SP for pain management, Trepro for cardio vascular disease and a total range for diabetes management.

Dabur Pharma launched Nanoxel, a new version of an existing anti-cancer drug Paclitaxel, which is a nanoparticle-based formulation. The new drug can be delivered in higher doses while reducing side effects associated with chemotherapy. The generic anti-cancer drug paclitaxel is not usually soluble in water or blood, and so must be administered to patients in a castor oil-based solvent called cremophor that itself can cause dangerous side effects.

Bharat Biotech International, Hyderabad-based company has launched an anti-rabies vaccine, Rabirix, for both prophylactic and therapeutic treatments. Dr Reddy's Laboratories announced the launch of Redituxa, the Dr Reddy's brand of rituximab, a monoclonal antibody (MAb) used in the treatment of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. These are just a few products that have been listed. But the message in clear, biotech drugs and agribiotech products will swell in the next two-three years.

Based on the current trends, the forecast for 2010 is that the Indian biotech industry would boast of over 400 companies, of which nearly 10 biotech companies will go public and another 50 companies will be on a high growth curve. The size of the biotech industry would be about $5 billion revenue, with about 100 biotech (domestic and imported) products in the market and there will be about   50, 000 technologists working in the biotech labs.