Wockhardt is planning to tap the $33-billion biosimilar market and focus on products that lose patent protection in 2013-2015.
Wockhardt has an edge over big pharma companies, such as Merck, which recently announced their foray into biosimilars at a cost of $3.2 billion, Mr Khorakiwala, executive chairman said. Biosimilar products are basically second versions of biologic medicines that depend on the same mechanism of action and used for the same therapeutic indication as the innovator product.
“In the biotech space, we are the only company to have developed insulin and analogues. We are the only manufacturers of a biosimilar version of Glargine other than the innovator. By the time other pharma companies develop the product and test it, they will lag behind us by four years or more. Global companies are also realising that this is a lucrative segment and are looking to enter this space. Right now, we are the only one in the market to have products, manufacturing capabilities and regulatory compliance,” he said. The company has nine manufacturing plants in India, which are approved by USFDA.
The company is waiting for the patent to go off for products like Glargine and others, which today have $12 billion sales and growing at 20%.
The company has eight products that are in various stages of development. These include pegylated products like growth hormones, insulin, analogue, erithropoitin and three monoclonal antibodies. This business alone stands at $33 billion.
Their next step is to look at the US once the pathway is clear, industry sources said. Mr Khorakiwala said that he was not adverse to strategic partnerships with global companies to take the products to the next level and to the market. “The idea is to leverage the strengths of global companies, who have a larger network,” he said.
Other Indian companies, including Ranbaxy, are also looking at taking biogeneric products developed by other companies and selling them in India and other less regulated markets. Unlike pharma generic products, in biopharmaceuticals, brands are the focus of marketing, as it is important for a company to establish that it has the capability to create a biogeneric successfully.