Although it projected to become a global hub for pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) and clinical research, in particular, the country is now facing a severe shortage of trained clinical investigators who form the nucleus of any drug research project or endeavour.
The recent recruitment drive initiated by several research-based domestic and global pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Merck, Jubilant, Ranbaxy and Dabur, among others, at the Delhi campus of Institute of Clinical Research India clear indicates the plight.
The campus witnessed aggressive poaching of candidates, who have just completed their masters or PhDs as part of the first batch from the institute.
The pharma companies, which were on a recruitment spree at the ICRI campus, include Pfizer, Ranbaxy Lab, Panacea Laboratories, Dabur Research Foundation, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Covansys India, iGate Clinical Research International, Neeman Medical International, Jubilant Cogtest, Escorts and Apothecaries.
Recruitment is currently on also with MSD Pharmaceuticals (Merck & Co), GVK BioSciences, Oscar Research and Eli Lilly & Company (India) to name a few.
ICRI vice-chairman Vijay Moza said the institute's first batch had only 100 MSc students, all of whom had been recruited by these companies as full-time employees.
"Although we had plans to send these students for a six-month internship under the corporates, they were all absorbed by the companies as full-time employees as the candidates were only 100 compared to the actual requirement of more than 1,000. Annual remuneration that they were offered ranges from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh," he said.
The Mumbai-based Academy of Clinical Excellence is the other such institution that conducts similar courses in the clinical research in India. And as far as the recruitment goes, this centre offers no different picture.
According to a recent FICCI report on growth of pharma services outsourcing in India, it was estimated that the country would need 10,000 trained investigators annually to match the requirement of the projected growth in the sector.
Moza said the ICRI has already decided to increase the total number of seats for MSc to 700 from the next batch onwards. The institute is also tying up with the UK-based Cranfield University for its curriculum to match global standards.
ICRI was the first institute set up in 2004 for higher education in clinical research in India. ICRI has several campuses located in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Dehradun.
The institute is currently running full-time courses at its Dehradun, Mumbai and Bangalore campuses for MSc in clinical research and also MSc with MBA. It also has part-time, post-graduate diploma courses and industrial training for the professionals from the industry.
Recently, ICRI and Dr MGR Deemed University, Chennai, have joined hands to create Centres of Excellence for promoting ethical research and providing quality education to meet the global demands.