Setting in aesthetic demands
Despite its very common prevalence in different forms, skin disorders are not discussed much unlike many other diseases when it comes to healthcare. Probably, the reason being that they are not life threatening. Due to the ugly look and prevalence many a times in non-exposed areas of the body, there is a tendency to hide them and not to talk about it. But that does not stop, in fact it leads to deterioration of the disease and its spread. But now gradually people are becoming conscious and seeking medical help.
In a study published in the Journal of
Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in August 2016, the researchers concluded that the prevalence of skin diseases was 60 per cent. Another study published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences and Public Health in 2016 about school children in Medak district of Telangana, 75 per cent children were found affected by skin diseases. Among them the number was more in girls than boys and rural areas than urban areas. Relatively a recent study of 2002 reveals that dermatological problems constitute at least 30 per cent of all outpatient visits to a pediatrician. Still skin disorders are not much on the radar of the healthcare systems. But it speaks loudly for the need to treat the skin diseases.
Hence, Drug Controller General of India’s (DCGI) recent approval to conduct clinical trials and drug development for dermatology, has made cosmetic products, plastic surgery procedures, cosmetology and cosmetic surgery devices in India very important. The Esthetic Clinics, a chain of dermatology and plastic surgery centers has been given this approval and it is first of its kind.
The approval for clinical trials is significant in more ways since for skin diseases, cosmetology etc. local clinical trials are more important.
The reason being the skin texture is different in different regions and can respond differently to the medicines. Hence it is important to conduct trials in the same region and same type of skins where the product is going to be used than trying it somewhere else on different skin texture and then using it somewhere else on different skin.
In plastic surgeries too, India is among the top countries. A survey by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) has placed India at the fourth rank, after US, Brazil and
South Korea, with 9.35 lakh cosmetic procedures conducted in 2015. Interestingly, 13.5 per cent of these procedures are performed on patients from US, UK and UAE.
No doubt, this makes India an important player in the global skin care industry that is valued at $50 billion and hair formulation market which is estimated to be $7 billion. This clearly shows the scope for trials in India, making all the procedures safer.
Local trials will help in reducing the testing cost and as a result price of the products too making it more accessible. Though currently the local trials are not mandatory, with setting up of such clinical trial centres they could be made mandatory in future further ensuring the safety of the products.
When over 13 per cent of its patients in this sector come especially to India from abroad, safety is an even more serious concern from their point of view and hence local trials may provide some extra relief over safety issue to these patients from abroad. It may also start fetching more patients from abroad.
But while looking at all the benefits one must not forget the challenges being faced in conducting all types of clinical trials in India. Due to these challenges currently hardly 1.4 per cent of global clinical trials are conducted in India. The global clinical trial market is expected to reach $920 billion by 2021. That gives scope to India to enhance its share in clinical trials market also. Initiatives like approving dermatology, cosmetic and plastic surgery trials may help in increasing India’s share substantially in this area.