For decades, the Indian pharmaceutical market was a fierce battleground for generic drugs. Be it native companies or foreign names, all of them have resorted to selling generic versions of branded molecules to capitalize on the overwhelming demand for treatment to common diseases. However, at the turn of the 21st century, things were bound to change. India, an emerging economy now, was keen on taking leaps in improving healthcare. And, that is when the Indian healthcare industry turned to technology. Two decades from then, India is now a promising destination for healthcare, and a thriving medical tourism destination.
As pharmaceutical and life science research gains importance with availability of funds and development of research infrastructure, the need for new drugs that are specific to the Indian populace has become imperative. It is basic knowledge that what works for the U.S. population has zero effect on Indians, because we have different genetic makeups. While that is one, every individual also has a unique genetic makeup. This opens doors for personalized medicine, as a result defining the impetus for genome sequencing.
Start-ups Lead the Way in India
Technology, as in most cases of the life sciences sector, is the backbone for genome sequencing market, too. It is the availability of sophisticated instruments to perform genome sequencing that matter the most. So, the companies manufacturing these devices root the growth of those carrying out genome sequencing. And invariably, it is the U.S. – powerhouse of pharmaceutical industry – that leads in companies manufacturing devices for genome sequencing. Reports suggest that three players – Illumina, Pacific Biosciences, and Life Technologies are prominent in the business.
In India, it is start-ups who are showing the way for the future in genome sequencing. Most companies in the space today are only offering services that collect samples, carryout sequencing, conduct primary analysis, and also study variations in genomes. Of this, it is the variation analytics that will matter when it comes to pharmaceutical applications. And sadly, it does not even account for 10% of the Indian genome sequencing market.
The Early Bird Advantage
Every individual has a unique reaction to the same drug and this happens because of the unique genetic makeup. This, over the years, healthcare providers have realized is a critical deterrent for treatment success. As a result, doctors have started looking for personalized medicine where treatment is targeted with fewer side effects.
In India, there is enough talking in the pharmaceutical space about personalized medicine, but there is little being done to make things happen. Currently, most companies offering or working on developing personalized medicine are dependent on variation analytics derived from foreign population. This seals the fate of efforts as inferences from foreign population will not be credible to design drugs for Indians. As a result, experts say that the companies making the first move will enjoy early bird advantage. The products offered by them will define the dynamics of the nascent Indian genome sequencing market.
One such name is Metaome. A two-year-old company based in Bengaluru, it is developing products that could change the face of Indian genome sequencing market. Understanding the variation in drug response in an individual is called variation calling. And, Metaome is developing products that will help in variation calling, thus help develop personalized medicine.