Glaxo, Oxford sign agreement

London, November 20:

Drugs major GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the University of Oxford have signed an agreement to develop experimental cancer drugs in India.

The company plans to open six centres in India to test products such as Lapatinib for breast cancer and Cervarix, its potential blockbuster vaccine against cervical cancer. The GSK agreement is with the clinical pharmacology department of the University of Oxford.

The move underlines India’s appeal as a low-cost base for research as well as its intellectual and scientific strengths. GSK said the move would not result in cutting highly-skilled laboratory jobs in Britain.

Reports say that bureaucracy in the National Health Service means not all patient trials can be carried out in British hospitals.

India, with its huge population and thousands of doctors and researchers, has proved the ideal test-bed for international drugs firms.

“The UK remains our key research and development base,” said GSK, “This collaboration will spread UK expertise and best practice to India.”

GSK said that Oxford professor David Kerr, who had a key role in setting up a network of cancer research facilities in Britain, wanted to duplicate this in India. “This will help to address the large unmet need for access to cancer drugs in India,” a GSK spokeswoman said.

The centres are to expected to be set up in New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kerala and Ahmedabad.