4 May 2023: Through several key drivers, India is emerging as a favorable destination to conduct clinical trials, as per a joint report by PwC India & USAIC (US-India Chamber of Commerce) titled, “Clinical Trial opportunities in India”. The report was released at the USAIC BioPharma & Healthcare Summit held virtually on May 3.

Sujay Shetty, Partner & Global Health Industries Leader, PwC, said, “Clinical trial activity in India has been increasing steadily since 2014 due to several key regulatory reforms aimed towards global harmonisation, enabling open access to clinical trials in India. The country’s diverse population, combined with its rapidly advancing healthcare infrastructure, provides a fertile ground for clinical trials to flourish. This is an opportunity for top biopharma companies to develop a long-term strategy that focuses on the key enablers of innovation and strategic partnerships in India.”

Biopharma can benefit from the critical enablers of innovation in the private healthcare system in India and leverage the rapidly expanding healthcare infrastructure in the country. Commenting on the opportunity for the private sector, Karun Rishi, President, USAIC said, “The growing interest in clinical trials in India presents a significant opportunity for private biopharma companies to leverage the country’s rich diversity and robust healthcare infrastructure. With a large and diverse patient pool, streamlined regulatory processes, and a highly skilled workforce, India offers a favourable environment for biopharma companies to conduct efficient and cost-effective clinical trials. By tapping into this opportunity, companies can accelerate their drug development timelines, increase the efficiency of their research, and bring innovative treatments to patients in need, ultimately advancing global healthcare.”

Key takeaways from the report:

1) The private sector is a well-suited channel for the top biopharma to conduct more efficient clinical trials with easier and faster access to investigators and patients.

2) Indian states with high disease prevalence (e.g., cancer) also have the most number of tier-1 cities, with advanced medical infrastructure and availability of investigators. Targeting these states can provide biopharma companies with faster access to patients, sites, and investigators

3) Total number of investigators has increased by 2x between 2015 and 2020, with the majority of the increase occurring in the internal medicine and oncology specialisations. However, the growth in the number of investigators is largely restricted to tier-1 and 2 cities.

4) While the top 20 pharma activity for the major therapy classes in India has remained largely constant in the last decade, growth opportunities exist across key diseases (e.g., pain, epilepsy, cervical cancer) and orphan diseases (β-thalassemia, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy)

5) India has an overall clinical trial participation of ~3% but contributes upwards of 15% to the global burden of most high prevalent diseases (e.g., respiratory infections, cardiovascular, diabetes, cervical cancer), representing an untapped potential for top pharma

6) Top biopharma should align their strategy towards tier-1 cities (e.g., Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai) where the higher bed capacity, number of doctors, and presence of tertiary care multi-city hospitals can support enablement efforts of running faster and more efficient clinical trials