The world's largest manufacturer of healthcare products, Johnson & Johnson, is making India a global hub of its research and development as it looks to ramp up its pharmaceutical business in the country.
The company is investing $17.5 million in its analytical and pharmaceutical development centre in Mumbai, which conducts early-stage drug development. In a few months, the number of professionals working there will rise from 65 to 150.
"We will develop the centre to make India an important hub of our drug research and development. We are in discussions with Indian companies and R&D institutes for drug research and clinical development of drug targets," said Paul Stoffels, chairman, research and development, Johnson & Johnson.
Clinical development of drugs will be a focus area for the company's growth in India. According to Stoffels, J&J conducts 15 clinical trials in India. The number will soon double.
The decision comes as yet another endorsement of India's emergence as a critical centre for pharma R&D. Last year, Novartis announced an investment of Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) in a centre in Hyderabad that will employ 5,000 scientists.
Pliva recently inaugurated its drug R&D centre in Goa. In March, Astra Zeneca opened a $15 million process and development laboratory in Bangalore, focused on new chemical entity research.
A month ago, Bristol-Myers Squibb teamed up with Biocon's subsidiary, Syngene International, to establish a facility in Bangalore that will have 400 scientists working on early-stage drug development.
Just a few weeks ago, GlaxoSmithKline and Tata Consultancy Services announced an agreement to establish a global drug development support centre in Mumbai.
According to a McKinsey report, the global clinical trial outsourcing to India in the pharmaceutical industry is estimated to be worth Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) by 2010.
J&J now markets its pharma products in India through its arm Janssen-Cilag, which sells only a few of its prescription and over-the-counter drugs. It is not even among the top-30 companies in India.
According to Ajit Shetty, its president, global chemical and pharmaceutical operations, the company will soon ramp up its pharma operations in India with the aim to become a leading player.
The growth strategy will be organic and involve launch of almost all its patented drugs.