After partially exiting the business two years ago, the Burman family, promoters of Dabur Ltd, will stage a major comeback soon to the pharmaceutical discovery research arena. They are setting up a modern contract research facility to house their recently registered Althea Life Sciences in the suburb of Gurgaon, a company officials said.
The group has research contracts with over 20 clients, foreign and Indian, and these are being done by Dabur Research Foundation (DRF), the group’s 30-year-old entity. The entire research activity will majorly expand in the new premises.
Dabur Chairman Anand Burman declined to provide details but said the new project is “being studied right now”. The new facility, coming up in over one lakh sq ft space at Gurgaon, will have an animal house facility, in addition to infrastructure needed to conduct research in cell biology.
The Burmans had sold their entire stake in Dabur Pharma to French healthcare major Fresenius SE in 2008. It had also transferred its generic cancer drug research team to Fresenius. The French company had also acquired the rights for all existing products that were developed by DRF.
Post exit, the number of scientists in DRF had come down to about 30. At Althea, the numbers are expected to double, with about 100 scientists joining by the year end, the official said.
“Fresenius is one of our big clients. We are conducting pre-clinical research for a large healthcare player in Finland and a university in the UK. We also do contract research for Dabur,” he said. The company, which currently does early-stage drug discovery programmes, will be equipped to undertake full-fledged research programmes for global drug companies once it moves to the new facility, he added.
|R&D MILESTONES AT DABUR RESEARCH FOUNDATION|
|1988: Develops Hajmola Candy - a candy variant of Hajmola digestive tablets, which gives a tangy, sweet-sour taste|
|1991: Sets up an oncology screening laboratory|
|1993: Strengthens the value of Chyawanprash as an immunity builder|
|1994: Isolates anticancer drug, Paclitaxel, from the leaves of Himalayan Yew Tree using a unique eco-friendly process|
|1995: Develops Vatika Hair Oil, a value-added coconut based hair oil that improves on plain coconut oil|
|1996: Develops ethnic cooking pastes branded and marketed as the Hommade range|
|1997: Develops preservatives-free fruit juices, launched as Real Juices|
|1998: Develops New Livfit for hepatitis B & E virus infections|
|1999: Oncology research by developing two more plant-based anticancer drugs|
|(Source: Dabur website)|
According to sources, Althea will be different from Dabur’s former research entities, as it will not have an exclusive cancer-focus. “Oncology will remain an important area of research. But, we will also have research relating to metabolic diseases,” sources said. Dabur promoters want to develop Althea as a major research base for ayurveda, vaccines, neutraceuticals (nutritional products that also provide medical benefits) and cosmoceuticals (cosmetic products with ingredients purporting to have medicinal benefits).
Soon after the stake sale, the Dabur chairman had indicated that DRF will be converted into a standalone drug discovery firm that undertakes international collaborative research programmes for the development of patented medicines.