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April 30, 2012
India's First Drug Isn't India's First Drug
There have been a number of headlines the last few days about Ranbaxy's Synriam, an antimalarial that's being touted as the first new drug developed inside the Indian pharma industry (and Ranbaxy as the first Indian company to do it).
But that's not quite true, as this post from The Allotrope makes clear. (Its author, Akshat Rathi, found one of my posts when he started digging into the story). Yes, Synriam is a mixture of a known antimalarial (piperaquine) and arterolane. And arterolane was definitely not discovered in India. It was part of a joint effort from the US, UK, Australia, and Switzerland, coordinated by the Swiss-based Medicines for Malaria Venture.
Ranbaxy did take on the late-stage development of this drug combination, after MMV backed out due to no-so-impressive performance in the clinic. As Rathi puts it:
Although Synriam does not qualify as ‘India’s first new drug’ (because none of its active ingredients were wholly developed in India), Ranbaxy deserves credit for being the first Indian pharmaceutical company to launch an NCE before it was launched anywhere else in the world.
And that's something that not many countries have done. I just wish that Ranbaxy were a little more honest about that in their press release.
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