Pharmaceutical R&D spending in India | MMS University

Pharmaceutical R&D spending in India

Catching up with the world!


A couple of years ago, the UN (United Nations) as part of their efforts to promote sustainable development across the world, came out with 17 ‘SDGs’ (Sustainable Development Goals). India being one of the participating nations that expressed its agreement with these globally relevant goals, also became party to the healthcare SGD, which encourages nations across the world to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.’

In addition to governmental efforts, all related healthcare stakeholders operating in India, such as pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, educational institutions and the public at large must join forces in order to ensure the achievement of this goal within the next couple of decades.

Promising Trends

India has traditionally been home to some of the world’s most audacious manufacturers of generic drugs. There used to be a general sentiment around the world that India would perhaps never begin to catch up with the world in terms of ensuring the necessary investment of time, effort and resources required to build up a highly effective healthcare system powered by innovative drugs and efficient care giving.

While there may be multiple reasons contributing towards India lagging behind in terms of overall R&D spending, there were 2 reasons that were often cited as being the most critical:

– Adverse Regulatory Environment

– Limited Investment by Domestic Drug Companies

There is still a long way to go for India to take its place as one of the leading pillars of pharmaceutical innovation. However, the initial trends have been encouraging.

Adverse Regulatory Environment

As far as the regulatory environment in India is concerned, there are many challenges which need solving. The laws governing IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) upon which all the innovation based and R&D centric industries excel have been poorly defined and the country’s record in implementing such laws has been mixed. The Indian government is yet to come out with big bang reforms to alleviate this challenge.

However, significant progress has been made on another front, that of clinical research. New regulations have been brought in to ensure stricter patient safety and ethical objectives, while steps have been taken to improve patient recruitment and reducing approval time lines. All these efforts have been resulting in an increase in the number of applications being submitted by companies to conduct new clinical trials in India as well as the beginning of a return of global pharmaceutical sponsors to revisit their India strategy within this sphere.

Limited Investment by Domestic Drug Companies

In the past few years, several ‘top-of-the-line’ domestic pharmaceutical companies have been aggressively investing with a view to build for the future. The latest financial year 2016 – 2017 can arguably be termed as a landmark year for the R&D investment initiated by pharmaceutical companies from India.

According to industry data, it is estimated that the top 5 pharmaceutical companies in India by revenues managed to put in well over USD 1 Billion (approximately equivalent to Rs. 6000 Cr) as part of their R&D investment. Some of these companies include the well known pharmaceutical giants from India such as Sun Pharma, Lupin, Cipla and others. According to information put out by company announcements and validated by industry experts, most of these investments are being directed towards the following categories:

– Complex generics

– Specialty and differentiated products

– Biosimilars

Some of the most prominent therapeutic areas which have seen increased R&D investment include Oncology, Respiratory and Dermatology, among others. It is widely expected that continuous investments in research would become the norm rather than an exception and it is expected that the next few years are going to see an increase in R&D related activity across the pharmaceutical spectrum in India.


It is natural that as more research is conducted by both global and domestic pharmaceutical companies in India, there is going to be an increase in demand for trained and certified professionals to ensure that the money being spent is delivering the required results. These jobs are likely to require prospective candidates to have more than ordinary degrees and conventional trainings.

In addition to pharmaceutical companies, potential recruiters would include bio pharmaceutical companies, clinical research organizations, medical devices manufacturers, hospitals and all other relevant stakeholders who will play a part in this industry.

Even today, HR managers at such companies struggle to locate good fit candidates for job positions in the fields of Medical Writing, SAS Clinical Programming, Trial Disclosures, etc. In the upcoming years, it is no secret that those candidates, who take the initiative to develop their capabilities and undergo specialized certification courses in relevant fields, will find more favor with potential recruiters.


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