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CRO: India Rides the Wave

Subhash Desai
Thursday, January 30, 2003
Subhash Desai
BACK IN 1985, NOT MANY WOULD HAVE HEARD about contract research organizations (CROs). Thanks to the enterprise of Dr. Anand Kumar, then conducting research in the United States, the uncharted domain has become a nearly booming business in India.

A visionary Kumar succeeded in convincing Swedish drug major ABAstra, later merged with UK-based Zeneca to form AstraZeneca, to set up its Research and Development operations in India. Kumar firmly believed that India could help in cutting down the time and money spent on research and product development. And, ABAstra found good reason to outsource drug discovery or pre-clinical research and the move virtually ignited a CRO boom in India.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the CRO market will grow from the present $9.8 billion to $16.3 billion in 2005, by which time global biopharmaceutical R&D spending will top $50 billion. Over 40 percent of this may well be committed to outsourcing, according to other estimates.

Typically, a CRO executes specific research projects where sophisticated capabilities are present both in personnel and in technologies, under tight confidentiality agreements and predetermined timelines. CROs provide access to technologies and expertise, thus cutting costs and time in accomplishing the objectives of the research project.

Currently, India has about 20 CROs that are either riding the boom or striving to do so. In Bangalore alone, there are more than 10 CROs. Prominent among them are Syngene International, Lotus Labs, Strand Genomics, Genotypic Technologies Avesthagen and Bioorganic and Applied Materials.

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