A vast, unwieldy population, a plethora of diseases, and rampant poverty: this was the picture India presented to the outside world till a while ago.
But these days the fact that India has the largest pool of patients suffering from cancer, diabetes and other maladies is leading the country to an altogether different destination: the global hub of outsourcing of clinical trials.
Almost all the top names in the pharmaceutical world have zeroed-in on India, setting up clinical trial facilities in major cities, especially Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.
Global consultancy McKinsey & Co estimates that by 2010, global pharmaceutical majors would spend around $1-1.5 billion just for drug trials in the country.
"The world is simply attracted by the facilities that India offers for pharmaceutical companies, their product developments and trials. The biggest advantages many look at are, of course, India's huge population of more than one billion, and cheaper costs.
India offers a huge cost advantage in the clinical trials domain compared to Western countries. A multinational company moving R&D to India could save as much as 30 to 50 per cent. For example, while the cost of hiring a chemist in the US is as high as US$ 250,000-300,000 per year, Indian discovery research outfits charge global pharmaceutical companies around US$ 60,000 per chemist which is roughly one fifth of what the pharmaceutical companies pay abroad.
India has the largest number of US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA)-approved plants outside the US, with over 100 facilities.
A study by Rabo India Finance, a subsidiary of the Netherlands-based Rabo Bank, to emphasize that India is the ideal destination for clinical trials.
The report says that India has the largest pool of patients with many diseases, including cancer and diabetes. Pharmaceutical giants are also magnetized by India due to the fact that the country offers nearly 700,000 specialty hospital beds,
221 medical colleges and skilled English-speaking medical personnel. India's drug industry officials say the clinical-trials outsourcing has just begun in the country. According to a Confederation of Indian Industry study, clinical trials in India in 2002 generated $70 million in revenues.
It predicts that it would grow to $200 million by 2007 and anywhere between $500 million and $1 billion by 2010.
These facts substantiate the point that in coming years the demand for Certified Clinical Research Professionals would grow tremendously. Salaries in this industry can range from Rs.20000/- to Rs.5,00,000 per month.