Test Time for India's Drugmakers

India's pharma companies are moving beyond generics to set their sights on the research and development of new drugs, but the risks are many
An Indian scientist works at a laboratory at the research center of Nicholas Piramal India Ltd. SEBASTIAN D'SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

For years, Indian pharmaceutical companies were renowned—or, depending on your point of view, notorious—for their copycat expertise in generic drugs. But with New Delhi enacting tougher patent protection in 2005, and with America's Big Pharma turning up the heat by filing more litigation against the Indians while also launching more authorized generics of their own, many Indian drugmakers have been focusing on boosting their own drug discovery efforts rather than just reengineering products made by others. Their goal: compete with companies like Merck (MRK), Eli Lilly (LLY), and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

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