Connect with us

Company News

Diabetes Will Be One Of Our Key Focus Areas: AstraZeneca’s Gagan Singh Bedi

British drugmaker AstraZeneca, which has committed to invest $90 million in India over five years, has set up Integrated Cardio Metabolic Centre in Kerala for holistic treatment of diabetes. Gagan Singh Bedi, managing director, AstraZeneca Pharma India, tells Samreen Ahmad that the company wants to set up such centres across the country.

The company which focuses on three key therapeutic areas, namely cardiovascular metabolism, oncology, and respiratory, has also created a strong pipeline of medicines for the India market. Edited excerpts:

Is diabetes going to be AstraZeneca’s major focus area in India given that the company recently launched Qtern in the country?

Diabetes will be one of our key focus areas as the disease burden is enormous. Today, there are 65-70 million diabetic patients in the country, with challenges of late diagnosis and maintenance of right amount of HbA1c level. Given these unmet needs, we have a significant role to play not only around drug therapy, but also shifting the treatment paradigm.

How are you doing that?

We have partnered Kerala government to set up a 360-degree metabolic centre in Ernakulam. This is a paradigm shift because rather than having the entire focus towards controlling glucose level, we are looking at treating the disease in a more holistic manner including right exercises and nutrition while taking care of the future risk factors such as retinopathy and nephropathy. The centre has so far treated over 5,000 patients. In the next phase, we are looking at setting up such centres across Kerala, and then expand to all other states. We have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Maharashtra government.

How do health care and innovation go hand in hand at AstraZeneca India?

Almost 60 per cent of the IT and innovation work (for the company) is being done out of our global technology centre in Chennai. We have tied up with IIT Madras to set up an incubation centre for start-ups which will come up with tech-laden healthcare solutions. So far, we have mentored three start-ups, namely Predible Health, Jana Care and PathShodh under a project called Unnati. We are also working with Tricog which has an artificial intelligence-based model that gives instant read-outs of ECGs. We are helping them with installations across the country and taking these start-ups global with tie-ups in countries like China.

Has your supply chain been disrupted because of the coronavirus outbreak in China?

China forms almost 20 per cent of our global sales. We are dependent on China for a few of our products such as Brilinta, which is used to treat acute coronary syndrome. But as of now, we have had no impact as we carry significant inventory. We have also restarted our production lines in China from February 10.

How important is India as a market for the company?

India continues to play a pivotal role on the global front. As compared to many of our peers, we have almost a third of our total revenue coming out of emerging markets.

What is the product pipeline for India?

In metabolics, we just filed for Roxadustat for anemia treatment in the US. This is an oral solution. We are looking to file for an approval in India as well. As the deteriorating air quality is a cause of concern, we have a strong respiratory pipeline too. The market is well-served when it gets to treatment around inhalation. But for severe asthma, we have a couple of products including Fasenra, which is used to treat Eosinophilic asthma. We are awaiting regulatory approval for that in India. Calquence which is used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia is also in the pipeline in India. We have already received market authorisation for it.

Any new therapy areas you are looking to enter?

With the disease burden going up, the challenges that we are facing in cardiovascular metabolics, respiratory and oncology are humongous. These will keep us really occupied for a long period of time.

What are the challenges that you face in the India market?

A lot of our market is out of pocket. However, the government here has taken several initiatives including faster regulatory approval and Ayushman Bharat to make sure that drugs are available to a vast population.

What kind of relaxations are you seeking so that drugs reach faster to the patients?

If I had one wish, I would like oncology drugs to be made free of taxes which will help more patients afford such medicines.-Business Standard

Copyright © 2024 Medical Buyer

error: Content is protected !!