India-based Glenmark Pharmaceuticals is looking to the west with its biotechnology-based drugs, that are expected to create a market of hundreds of billions of dollars in the near future.
The company that has more than $200m (£122m, €146m) in selling rights for its drugs is seeking to introduce its first biotechnology medicine in the US or Europe as early as 2017, according to Bloomberg.
In an interview, Glenmark's managing director Glenn Saldanha said its drug for ulcerative colitis is progressing through US trials after being licensed to Paris-based Sanofi. The bowel disorder drug that is in phase two trials in the US may come to market from 2017 to 2020, he said.
In addition, the company has begun talks in connection with licensing its biologic pain and inflammation drugs in the West. The drugs are going into early stage clinical trials in 2013.
"These are all $1 billion-plus drugs," Saldanha said. "The hope is to be the first innovative pharma company coming out of India."
Great Potential of Biologics
Biologic drugs can be composed of sugars, proteins, nucleic acids or combinations of these substances, and may also be living entities such as cells and tissues, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
They are expected to offer the most effective treatment for a range of illnesses that are not curable at present, according to the FDA.
Pharmaceutical research firm IMS Health forecasts that the global market for biologic drugs would reach as much as $250bn by 2020.
While being risky, Glenmark's focus in biologics is expected to benefit the company eventually.
"They are jumping straight into the technologically most challenging area in the pharmaceutical industry. When something is that challenging, it means there's that much less of a chance of success. If they succeed, it can be big as well," Bloomberg quoted Bino Pathiparampil, an analyst at India Infoline.
Glenmark conducts research and development into biologic treatments at a laboratory in Switzerland in order to avoid bureaucratic red tape for human trials in India.
For the fiscal year ending in March 2014, the company is expected to record about 20% growth in sales. In the previous fiscal year, its revenues rose 25% to 50.1bn rupees ($809m) and net income rose 34% to 6.1bn rupees.
More than half of the company's sales come from abroad. Glenmark has completed seven licensing deals since 2004 and received $206m from the deals.