Pharma leader interview: Encouraging Indian pharma innovation

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Mr R.K. Suri, Senior Advisor and Former Chief Executive of Panacea Biotec is a prominent figure in the pharmaceutical field. With over 30 years experience working in the industry, he is a leader and inspirational figure. Working for Panacea Biotec, a well-known innovation-centered biopharmaceutical company in India, Mr Suri will join us as a keynote speaker at The 14th BioPharma India 2016 this 15-16 November. Prior to the event, we had the honour of getting his thoughts on the following questions:

What inspired your long stay in pharmaceutical industry? What do you enjoy the most working with the teams in Panacea and PanEra Biotech?

Suri: The pharma Industry has been my first love! In fact when I was still appearing in the final Viva-Voce of my post-graduation degree in Biochemistry I got the call from Lupin & thereafter never thought of changing industry. Healthcare, and especially vaccines, gives you so much personal satisfaction when you are a part of the mammoth mission of saving the lives of millions of children all over the developing world that you feel stimulated to walk an extra mile! My experience at Panacea & PanEra has been both enjoyable and meaningful, particularly when we got to work shoulder to shoulder in facing challenges and coming out successfully as a winning team!

What are the key success factors for Panacea in remaining innovative in the competitive generics market in India?

Suri: Innovation is the way of Life at Panacea Biotec. We tend to do different things, or the same things differently, meaning that we believe that we must add value to whatever we are doing. In terms of Key Success Factors, I would like to start with the dynamic leadership of our Jt. Managing Director, Dr Rajesh Jain who is a strong believer in innovation and encourages that culture which percolates down the line. Secondly Panacea Biotec has four dedicated Innovation Centres of Excellence where a team of more than 230 scientists are engaged in drug development, as well as  drug discovery, in all three verticals i.e. Pharma, Biopharma and Vaccines. Third is the company’s strategy to focus on difficult to develop generics including 505(b)(2) NDA products (NDDS products), and fourthly the forging of strategic alliances with leading US-based companies for launch in the US & EU markets.

Based on your experience working in both international and local pharma, what is the strength of local biotechs and how can they improve to win the global competition?

Suri: Indian biotech companies are excellent at building large capacities and keeping costs low, to be competitive in the global tenders. For example, Indian vaccine companies together account for over 60% of supplies to UN agencies and in certain specific vaccines this figure may be even larger. Now the focus is on innovation and you already have few innovative products either launched or on the verge of launch.

Can you share with us a little bit more about PanEra Biotec and how it is going to disrupt the industry?

Suri: Pan Era is an associate company of Panacea Biotec. In simple terms, it is engaged in the development and manufacture of basic Antigens, Drug Substances or APIs for all the complex combination vaccines e.g. Hepatitis B, HiB, Diptheria, Pertussis, Tetanus etc and also for newer products like Dengue & Pneumococcal conj Vaccines. This certainly helps to build self-reliance and cost competitiveness.

In your opinion, how can India replicate the success in API& generics manufacturing to become a global innovation driven hub?

Suri: The trend of global leadership is already catching up. India’s biotech industry is readying itself with a focus on innovation through higher investments in  R & D, high-calibre scientists developing a host of Biosimilars & vaccines and building matching capacities to be cost competitive so as to replicate the success in API & generics manufacturing.

Want to find out more and hear from Mr. Suri in person? Join us at BioPharma India 2016 in the Hyatt Regency Mumbai this 15-16 November! Book now to secure your place..





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