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Wockhardt - Playing safe

January 8, 2008
Habil Khorakiwala
Habil Khorakiwala
Habil Khorakiwala, Chairman, Wockhardt, like many of the CEOs BT spoke to, is keen to have a new drug on the market in five years.

However, unlike the others, Khorakiwala wouldn’t be terribly heartbroken—disappointed yes, but not shattered—if his efforts came to a naught.

That’s because NCEs account for just a fifth of Wockhardt’s total spend on R&D. Most of the time—and Wockhardt’s money— spent by the 500 scientists at the Wockhardt R&D Centre in Aurangabad is on creating research expertise in niche areas such as ophthalmology, injectibles, novel drug delivery systems, and peptides.

Chairman: Habil Khorakiwala

NCES in the pipeline: 10 (including early-stage)

Therapeutic areas of focus: Anti-infectives

Progress made: One candidate has completed Phase II, one is set to enter clinical trials, and one is in the pre-clinical stage. Others are at early-stage

Investments so far in NCE research: Rs 200 crore over 12 years

Annual investment in R&D: 8-9 per cent of sales

Likely target date for new drug launch: 2012-13

CEO-speak: “It’s only when the risk profile decreases that the value proposition increases”

These, in turn, help the company to file abbreviated new drug applications (ANDAs) in the US market for generics (in 2007, for instance, Wockhardt had filed 33 ANDAs).

Yet, there’s little doubt that a new drug on the market is more than a gleam in Khorakiwala’s eye.

In five years, he’s hopeful that one of his candidates that has progressed up to Phase II—a broadspectrum antibiotic codenamed WCK 771—would make it to market in the next five years.

In addition, he’s got some 10 molecules in the NCE pipeline (most of them at an early stage of development).

An analysis of the potential that exists in WCK 771 reveals that peak annual sales could hit $900 million (five years after launch).

That’s probably why Khorakiwala isn’t in a huge rush to license out the molecule for further development. “The valuation has to be right,” he shrugs. “If it isn’t, we would like to go all the way with this molecule.”

— Brian Carvalho

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