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Nicholas ties up with UK scientists

January 05, 2004 09:34 IST

Drug company Nicholas Piramal India Ltd has tied up with a group of scientists from Imperial College of the UK to carry out research in the field of rheumatoid arthritis. The team will be led by Ravinder Maini, an eminent scientist of Indian origin.

"Maini is already associated with the company. We are now taking the relationship forward," Ajay Piramal, chairman of NPIL, said.

Maini, along with Bob Chaudhuri, a professor of cancer studies with the School of Pharmacy, De Montfort University, had joined the scientific advisory board of NPIL in late-2003.

This is the second R&D collaboration between scientists in the West and Indian pharmaceutical industry to have taken place in the last few months.

Some time back, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, the country's largest pharmaceutical company, had announced that it was getting into a tie-up with GlaxoSmithKline to discover and develop new chemical entities.

Maini is the recipient of the prestigious Albert Lasker Award 2003 for clinical medial research and pioneering radically new and better treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, a painful and crippling disease that effects many millions of people globally.

"Most people who got this award went on to win the Nobel Prize as well," Piramal said.

"The therapy he (Maini) developed has brought relief and vitality to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, and promises to better the lives of even more individuals as it proves effective in additional debilitating illnesses," an NPIL statement, issued when Maini joined the company's scientific advisory board, said.

NPIL is investing Rs 75 crore (Rs 750 million) over the next two years, and Rs 40 crore (Rs 400 million) per annum subsequently, as a part of the expansion plan for its R&D centre.

The new R&D facility in Goregaon, Mumbai, is spread over an area of 2,00,000 sq ft and will focus on rheumatology and cancer research, apart from new chemical entities and new drug-delivery systems.

NPIL is the third largest player in the Indian pharmaceutical market after GlaxoSmithKline and Ranbaxy.
Bhupesh Bhandari in New Delhi