Cancer cases in India are projected to rise 12.8 percent by 2025 from 13.9 lakh in 2020, the latest National Cancer Registry Programme data shows. As cancer cases rise, pharma companies are working to augment innovation in their oncology portfolio.
Recently, Mumbai-based Glenmark Pharmaceuticals launched a drug for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea under an exclusive licensing agreement with Swiss firm Helsinn.
In an interview to Moneycontrol on World Cancer Day on February 4, Alok Malik, Head of India formulations business at Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, said the company is expanding its oncology portfolio to cater to the growing demand in India. Edited excerpts:
What is Glenmark doing in the oncology portfolio in India?
Glenmark has a strong presence in the market and offers a range of affordable oncology products. The company is committed to improving access to quality oncology care in India and is working towards building a strong pipeline of products basis therapy gaps in the market and the needs of the patients.
Which are the areas in oncology that Glenmark will focus on in India?
We are continuously expanding our oncology product portfolio to cater to the growing demand for cancer treatments in India. Glenmark is focused on developing and commercialising its innovative oncology products.
Going forward, Glenmark aims to be among the top 10 players in the Indian Pharmaceutical Market while maintaining focus on key therapeutic areas such as oncology, dermatology, respiratory, cardiovascular and diabetes.
With cancer cases rising in India and how do you see the drug market growing?
The incidence of cancer in India is intensifying due to various reasons, including lifestyle changes, increasing exposure to environmental toxins, and an aging population.
In order to enhance access to cancer care and improve the quality of care, the government has launched several initiatives such as including the National Cancer Control Program and the National Program for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases, and Stroke.
Overall, the cancer drugs market in India is expected to continue growing in the coming years, driven by rising cancer incidence rates, improved diagnosis and treatment facilities, growing awareness about cancer treatments, and increasing affordability of treatments.
How do you see the portfolio of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, prostate cancer, breast cancer and renal cancer drugs marketed in India expanding?
For chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), even after the introduction of multiple category of drugs in cancer, chemotherapy remains to be a favourable line of therapy for effective control of cancer among patients.
Lack of CINV control leads to interruption of chemotherapy cycles and unplanned hospitalisations, which can add to the overall treatment cost. With the dependence on chemotherapy getting higher, there is a significant demand for CINV medications.
Further, the growing awareness about the effectiveness of available CINV therapies and their rising affordability, the market is expected to expand.
Glenmark is committed to bringing new and innovative solutions in this category. Some of our novel launches include Akynzeo® and Akynzeo® IV by entering into an exclusive licensing arrangement with Helsinn, a Swiss biopharma group company.
What are the launches the company is planning in India?
We will continue to bring new treatment options in prostate, breast and renal cancers. We are also strengthening our efforts of bringing first-in-market launches in CINV – chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
What are the plans for oncology drugs?
Oncology is a key focus therapy area for Glenmark when it comes to new drug discovery. With a view to strengthen our emphasis on innovation and advance our clinical-stage pipeline, we established the Global Innovative Medicines Group last year. The innovative medicines group is focussed on developing a broader gambit of small molecules which are therapeutically aligned to Glenmark’s portfolio.
Our oncology discovery pipeline consists of a molecule GRC 54276, which is a novel, orally active Hematopoietic Progenitor Kinase 1 (HPK1) Inhibitor and is being developed as an orally administered IO-adjuvant treatment for patients with solid tumors.
The drugs and treatment costs for cancer take a toll, how does your patient support programme help such patients?
Glenmark’s Oncology Patient support initiative is designed to take care of the multiple hurdles that a patient faces to receive treatment for cancer. The programme, through a single platform, mimics the patient journey and enables patients to overcome access hurdles, including accessibility, awareness and adherence. Every year more than 3,000 patients benefit from this programme.