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
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