labels: pharmaceuticals, merck & co, tata group
Tata Group''s Advinus to develop metabolic drugs for Merck news
16 November 2006

Mumbai: Tata Group drug discovery and development firm Advinus Therapeutics Pvt Ltd has entered into collaboration with US-based drug giant Merck and Co, for the discovery and development of metabolic drugs. This is Merck's first research-based collaboration in India.

Advinus, a relatively new venture, has so far invested $30 million in its two R&D centers in Bangalore and Pune. The company plans to induct around 100 people in the next three years to strengthen the drug discovery team in its Pune facility alone, which employs 65 people now, said Tata Sons executive director R Gopalakrishnan. The company has plans to treble its manpower strength in the "not so distant future," he added.

Advinus, he said, would only be engaged in drug discovery and development, but has no intention to market or manufacture these medicines, which would be done by Merck only.

"We have been offered a basket of 10 targets. However, initially we will begin with two target programmes, which could be expanded further over time. We will identify the two targets very soon," Gopalakrishnan said.

Advinus would receive an upfront payment and could receive payments of up to $75 million for each target, he said.

He said Advinus would also be eligible for royalties on the sales of any products that result from the collaboration.

"This agreement reflects India's emerging role in bringing innovative and life-saving drugs to market with speed and cost-effectiveness," Advinus chief executive Rashmi Barbhaiya said in a statement.

Low production costs are attracting a host of drug firms to India, even as Indian firms seek acquisitions in the US and Europe for a bigger share of the generics market.

Novartis AG recently reached a provisional agreement to buy land in Hyderabad, while Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. plans to double the number of scientists it employs in India and Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. has acquired a facility in Goa.

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Tata Group''s Advinus to develop metabolic drugs for Merck