Glaxo targets India for cancer drug research
By Ben Hirschler, European Pharmaceuticals Correspondent
LONDON (Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline Plc plans to make India
a major center for testing experimental cancer drugs, in a move
highlighting the appeal of the country as a low-cost base for
Europe’s biggest drug maker said on Thursday it had signed
a collaboration with the University of Oxford’s clinical
pharmacology department to establish the first Indian
Glaxo, which has big ambitions in cancer, will outline its
goals for tackling the disease at a research seminar for
investors on November 30.
Its most important experimental cancer drug is lapatinib, a
dual-action treatment which is being developed initially for
breast cancer. It also has a promising vaccine to prevent
cervical cancer, called Cervarix.
Glaxo said the new collaboration would enable the
evaluation of new treatments in a range of cancer types,
including gall bladder, liver and cervical cancers, which are
more prevalent in India than in Europe or North America.
The new network — which has initial 3-year funding from
Glaxo — will include publicly funded cancer centres in New
Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kerala and Ahmedabad.
EMERGING MARKET ATTRACTION
Western drug companies are shifting more clinical trials to
emerging markets in a bid to save money, speed up research and
educate a new generation of local doctors about their products.
Glaxo said in October 2004 that it aimed to move 30 percent
of its clinical trials to low-cost countries within two years.
Other favorite locations include China and Poland.
While conducting trials in these countries is significantly
cheaper, cost is not the only factor.
It is also easier to recruit patients, since there is less
competition from rival research groups, and the population is
less likely to be taking other medicines which could interact
with the drug being studied.
Professor David Kerr of the University of Oxford, who is
leading the management team for the cancer-trials network, said
Indian sites would be involved in each stage of the clinical
Cancer sufferers in India stand to gain from the
arrangement, according to Professor Vinod Raina, an oncologist
with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
“Indian patients will now have the benefit of access to new
anti-cancer agents at a much earlier stage than in the past,”
Cancer is an increasing focus for many large pharmaceutical
According to health information firm IMS Health, cancer
drug sales will rise by 17 percent to 18 percent next year —
almost three times the overall pharmaceutical market growth
rate of 6 percent to 7 percent — and will overtake cholesterol
treatments as the largest-selling drug category.