R&D spending by India’s 25 leading drugmakers grew nearly 17% overall in 2008-9, with a number of firms increasing their investments by over 40%, according to a local survey.

Total R&D spending by the 25 firms reached 32.1 billion rupees, representing 7.75% of their sales, up slightly on the 7.60% level reported for the previous year, according to a survey conducted by the Pharmabiz news service.

Among the companies which increased their R&D spend by more than 40% during the year were Ind-Swift, Jubilant Organosys, Matrix, Piramal Healthcare, Sun Pharma Advance Research Co and Stride Arcolab, says the survey, which also reports increases of 15%-40% for firms including Biocon, Cadila Healthcare, Ipca, Fresenius Kabi Oncology (formerly Dabur) and Lupin.

The year’s biggest investor in R&D was Ranbaxy, spending a total of 4.71 billion rupees, just 2.4% more than the previous year. The next biggest spender was Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, then Lupin. Other international names whose R&D investments grew by single-digit amounts last year include Cipla, Sun Pharma, Torrent and Alembic. A number of big firms cut back their R&D investments for the year, including Ajanta Pharma, Aurobindo, Dr Reddy’s, Glenmark, Orchid, Panacea Biotech, Shasun Chemicals, Unichem and Wockhardt, says Pharmabiz.

Meantime, a new report released this week puts the total value of India’s pharmaceutical industry in 2008-9 at $10.8 billion and forecasts that this will double to $20.9 billion in 2014.

The sector’s exports soared 30.3% in the year to 394.5 billion rupees, says the report, from Research and Markets. It goes on to forecast that high levels of investment in R&D, the filing of greater numbers of Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDAs) and Drug Master Files (DMFs) in highly-regulated markets, plus mergers and acquisitions, in-licensing, a skilled labour force, high-standard scientific base and revenues from contract research and manufacturing services (CRAMS) will give Indian drugmakers the “necessary edge” in the years to come.

According to the Pharmabiz survey, Dr Reddy’s filed 23 ANDAs during 2008-9, received approval for the same number of ANDAs and launched 16 new products onto the US market. Also during the year, Orchid filed 58 ANDAs, Lupin filed 28, and the totals for other firms included: Glenmark – 22, Matrix – 20, Aurobindo Pharma – 19, Cadila Healthcare – 19, Alembic – 8 and Ranbaxy – 6, it says.