Wednesday, March 26, 2014

CDRI & Drug Discovery in India

India is currently a world leader in the manufacture of generic drugs. These are generally off-patent medicines marketed under their original chemical name, without advertising.

Since these drugs are usually produced and sold in bulk, profit margins are wafer thin. The real meat in the pharmaceutical business lies in the branded block-buster drugs that have taken years to develop.

How many new drugs have been developed or discovered in India, since 1947?

According to the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI, Lucknow), the answer is 16. Nearly 70% of these have been developed in CDRI itself.  They are --

  • Centchroman - world's first non-steroidal oral contraceptive  - marketed by Hindustan Latex Ltd under the trade name, Saheli and as Centron by Torrent Pharma.
  • Arteether: antimalarial, from the plant Artemisia annua. Marketed by Themis Chemicals Ltd. under the trade name E-Mal. 
  • Standardised Herbal Remedy (can this be called a drug?):  memory enhancer derived from the plant Bacopa monniera. Marketed as Memory Sure
  • Consap (spermicidal cream) derived from soapnut
  • Bulaquin, an antirelapse antimalarial, comparable to primaquine. Marketed by Nicholas Piramal as a combination therapy along with chloroquine under the trade name Aablaquin. 
  • Gugulipid, a hypolipidaemic, is a standardised fraction of the plant Commiphora mukul. Cipla is marketing it under the trade name Guglip.
  • Chandoniun Iodide - ??
  • Cent bufinodole - ??
  • Centpropazine (antidepressant) - ??
  • Centbucridine, a local anaesthetic mktd by Themis Chemicals Ltd. as Centoblok. 
  • Centimizon -??

The CDRI list seems to be in descending order to oblivion. The further you're down the list, the URLs too go wonky, linking you to completely unrelated pages.

In any case, the only one that remembered seeing at a medical store, was Saheli, and Memory Sure.

If this is what we get after spending public money for 64 years at CDRI?

Which are the other five drugs discovered in India? Do they - hopefully - fare better than CDRI's star-performers?


* "New drugs" from CDRI --
* Centchroman / Saheli --
* (ToI, 18 Feb 2012) --

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