The birth of low cost generic API industry in India
NCL marks the Silver Jubilee of its founding in 1975.
NCL focus shifts predominantly to development of indigenous technologies for the Indian chemical industry. Import substitution and conservation of foreign exchange becomes a dominant theme in the context of India’s precarious economic conditions prevailing in the early seventies.
NCL gives birth to the low cost generic API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) industry in India. With the advent of Indian Patent Act 1970, India withdraws recognition of product patent, enabling Indian companies to produce molecules discovered elsewhere using innovative process chemistry. NCL builds a programme of research aimed at developing efficient chemistries for producing cost effective drugs for Indian consumers. This research continues at NCL/IICT for three decades (1970-2000), slowly tapering off, thereafter, with India joining WTO (TRIPS) and Indian Patent Act 2005, which reintroduces recognition of product patents.
NCL gives birth to a new industry for generic drugs in India. Cipla Limited is the torch bearer, which sets up collaboration with NCL in the early seventies. Several drugs are introduced in the market. Cipla Limited emerges as the largest drug company in India in the nineties and introduces drugs at the lowest prices in the Indian market. Cipla also successfully faces challenges from innovator companies in Africa for introducing HIV/AIDS drugs at a fraction of global cost.
Dr. Y.K. Hamied, Chairman, Cipla Limited in his speech at IICT, Hyderabad delivered on 2 April 2005, says, “This was the start of a very useful and productive partnership between NCL and the pharmaceutical industry. Our collective effort in the post Indian Patents Act 1970 era laid the foundation on which was built the API manufacturing industry as it exists today”.
Over 60 industries utilize the know-how developed by NCL. Around 90 licenses of NCL technologies are issued. Approximately 46 processes are in production during the decade with an estimated value of Rs. 6.5 crore.
NCL offers turn key technologies for fine chemicals to industries. This includes, process chemistry, pilot plant experimentations, process, equipment and plant design. Two major processes that were successfully transferred to industry during this decade are Acetanilide (2,000 tones per annum) to HOC, Rasayani and Acrylic Esters (10,000 tones per annum) to Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited (IPCL), Baroda.