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Biocon Meets Clinical Trial Milestone for Psoriasis Drug...
January 11, 2012
Publication : Economic Times
Biocon has moved forward in its efforts to bring out its affordable drug 'itolizumab', used for the treatment of psoriasis. The Bangalore-based biotechnology firm has met the primary and secondary goals of clinical trials conducted on 200 patients over 52 weeks. The company said there was a 75% improvement in the psoriasis lesions of patients during the trials.

In an exclusive call with ET, company CMD Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said, "A lot is yet to happen as far as Research and Development is concerned and this drug has the potential to go global. The next one year will be spent on getting more validations and it will take another 2-3 years before it gets launched globally."

Psoriasis is a skin ailment that often occurs due to disorder in the immune system. Itolizumab is a monoclonal antibody, which means a lab-made antibody that fuels the immune system to attack disease-causing cells.

Analysts peg the drug market for psoriasis to be around $4.5-5 billion globally. The trials in India were a cost-effective strategy for Biocon, now on the prowl for a partner who, says the CMD, will strategise the way forward. "This could be a multibillion dollar opportunity for us. We would like to partner this molecule and then initiate a global trial so that we have the buy-in from a partner for the development plan," said Shaw.

The Bangalorebased firm already has alliances with global drug makers like Mylan and Pfizer. Industry analysts say there is still some time to go before the company can reap benefits from itolizumab. "The stock may go up, but that will be temporary. This is just a milestone in the clinical stage and nothing very significant," said a Mumbai-based biotechnology analyst. He said that data compilation and registration will take a few more years and a novel drug would require 17 months on an average in India, 3-4 years in Europe and 2-3 years in the US.

"It is meaningful in the innovation sense but would not have any financial implication," says another Mumbai-based analyst.

Biocon will develop itolizumab for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis as well. Rheumatoid arthritis leads to inflammation of joints and tissues and can impact organs as well, while multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease affecting the brain and the spinal cord. The market size for rheumatoid arthritis drugs, say industry watchers, is $13-15 billion and for multiple sclerosis, it is $15 billion.

The shares of Biocon closed at Rs 278 on the BSE, up 1.55% in Tuesday trading. The company had announced the results of the primary and secondary trials of its psoriasis drug after market hours on Monday.
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