Dr Swati Piramal, director of Piramal Life Sciences, has been quoted in the media as saying that Piramal expects to launch its first drug by 2011-12. She further said that “the company would not hazard a guess on when it can break even because even after launch drugs can fail.” That gives a sense that the entire money spent on this drug could be wasted.
Dr Piramal’s statement substantially differs from what Ajay Piramal had said two years back in July 2007 in a national business magazine. Mr Piramal had said that the company expects a new molecule discovery in 2010-11. A delay in drug research is very common. Many pharma companies spend huge amounts on drug research and show impressive clinical advancement in phase I, phase II and phase III studies but then fail at the final stage.
Piramal Life Sciences has apparently already spent Rs600 crore on drug research and plans to spend another Rs200 crore in the next two years. The published report says that one molecule (a head and neck cancer drug) and four phythopharma molecules are at the phase II trial stage. That means that these are yet to enter into phase III trials on large number of patients before they turn out to be a success or failure. It’s going to be a long while before Piramal Life Sciences is able to declare any signficiant success on its drug research.