ZIM Laboratories: Innovating Patient-Centric Drug Delivery Solution Via Versatile Technology Platforms

Dr. Anwar S. Daud,Managing Director (M. Pharm, PhD)
Dr. Anwar S. Daud, Managing Director

Thankfully, owing to every governments’ push towards domestic manufacturing of their pharmaceutical requirements, legal enforcement of ‘genericization’ of off-patent drugs,and the emergence of e-Commerce platforms for prescription drugs amongst other disruptive changes to the old model of making drugs available, we are shifting towards an epoch where the patient holds the power to choose which drug/treatment should one take, moving away from the prescriber & supply chain push being the decision makers. The credit for this massive revolution in the pharmaceutical business can also be conferred to the tightening of regulatory requirements with special emphasis on ethical marketing & data integrity, push towards affordability and convenience. Resultantly, to withstand the competition and promote treatment adherence, a pharmaceutical organization must produce high-quality, patient-centric & affordable medicines with extra advantages such as convenience in terms of taste, treatment frequency and so forth. Providing precisely this variety of products to the market is Zim Laboratories, which is one of the rare pharmaceutical companies that innovate on pharmaceutical formulation manufacturing processes. “Our strategy is to create robust & versatile technology platforms which enable rapid development and manufacturing of high-quality yet affordable, complex or differentiated pharmaceutical products that are focused towards patient convenience and treatment adherence,” explains Dr. Anwar S. Daud, Managing Director, Zim Laboratories. This Nagpur-headquartered company eclipses the competition with its prowess in providing a range of technology-based drug delivery solutions and non-infringing proprietary manufacturing processes for development, manufacture and supply of innovative & differentiated generic pharmaceutical products.

Flexible, Comprehensive & Innovative Offerings
Zim acts as a research-centric product development partner for its customers across several Pharmerging and RoW markets. It provides a constant pipeline of therapy-agnostic pre-formulation intermediates (PFIs) – pellets of various release profiles (DR, EC, CR, DDR & so forth), and finished formulations – pellets filled in capsules, tablets, capsules & dry syrups/suspensions for reconstitution. These PFIs include directly compressible granules, taste masked powders and more, which are too complicated for its customers with a high-technology barrier. Not stopping there, the company also offers significant advantages to its partners in the form of wide interface, regulatory support, manufacturing support, and marketing support, wherein it handholds its clients throughout the process.

Thinoral - The King of OTFs
Zim has recently developed innovative technology platform – Thinoral which is used to manufacture Oral Thin Films (OTF) – a rare technology that is possessed by only a handful of players. Its rapidly dissolving, non-sticky films with higher drug loading capacity (100 Mg) and the faster release profile alleviates solubility issues in poorly soluble drugs. unlike orally disintegrating tablets manufactured using lyophilisation or low compression pressure, the Thinoral strips are flexible and offer ease of storage and transportation. This technology could also be used for drug delivery through sublingual &
buccal absorption routes, showing improved bioavailability by avoiding first pass metabolism. With a total 36 registered products and 13 in pipeline, which is the highest product approvals based on thin film technology in India, Zim is running ahead of the pack as the leader of the OTF segment in india.

"Our strategy is to create robust & versatile technology platforms which enable rapid development and manufacturing of high-quality yet affordable, complex or differentiated pharmaceutical products"

There are many unstable drug molecules and many poorly soluble ones, which pose a challenge during their development into final products. Zim possesses technologies for enhancing the stability and solubility of such molecules, which allow it to develop large number of molecules using its platform technologies of pelletisation, tableting, and thin film manufacturing. In fact, Zim is the pioneer in pelletization technology, which enables the precise control on timing & amount of drug released, thereby reducing the dosage frequency & side effects of drug molecules. It has also mastered the taste masking technology for much bitter produce, including several antibiotics without affecting their dissolution, bio-availability and shelf-life. Likewise, its Drug Release Modification technology reduces the frequency of drug administration and helps in drug compliance.

Its DSIR-recognized research center encompasses around 120 people strong qualified & experienced research team, out of which 88 are post-graduates and five are PhD scholars. “Our state-of-the-art R&D is a mini replica of our manufacturing plant. Therefore, whatever new techniques or technologies we develop in our R&D are easily and successfully scalable to the big batch sizes for commercial offering,” explains Dr. Anwar. Going the extra mile, the company is also running various research projects with various academic & research institutes, including Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, NMIMS Shirpur, Gurunanak College of Pharmacy and Nagpur University, among others.

An Astounding Rise
Born in 1989 as the brainchild of a group of technocrats – all based in the industrially backward area of Nagpur, Zim emerged into the leading supplier of pharmaceutical products to Government organizations through tenders from its WHOGMP approved plant. Determined to carve a niche for itself in the market, the company shifted its focus towards differentiated & higher margin products in 2001 and developed pellets, granules & taste-masking technology platforms, following which it ventured into Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) markets. Fruitfully establishing the proof-of-concept for oral thin films and nanotechnology endowed Zim with funding from private equity investor in 2012. This facilitated the organization to upgrade its manufacturing facilities to EU-GMP standards, invest in team & processes and separate WHO-GMP approved OTF facility, besides commercializing OTF products. Consequently, Zim made a fierce foray into newer geographies like SEA, Latam, CIS and Africa, and grew its Sri Lanka, Bangladesh & MENA businesses.

These prolific endeavours motivated the company to draw its spotlight on building a steady pipeline with dossier fillings and own product registrations. Today, standing tall with a whopping 53 patent filings worldwide for its 26 inventions and nearly 200 formulation registrations (and much more in the pipeline), Zim has cemented its presence in 45 countries with a whopping 175 international clients. And its
workforce for manufacturing is comprised of more than 500 people, who are spread across its three manufacturing units in Nagpur established in 1989 (1,00,000 sq. ft.), 2011 (16,000 sq. ft.) and 2014 (6,300 sq.ft.) all are EU-GMP, WHO GMP & ISO 9001 certified.

Conquering New Realms
Zim’s obsession with setting very high-quality standards for itself has enabled it to easily comply to all the regulations of Indian drug regulatory agencies, as well as to that of its target markets, which explains its constantly soaring export revenues. Selecting its markets very carefully, the company is shifting from those countries where differentiated products don’t have market to the countries where margins for differentiated products are encouraging. Since its manufacturing plants are already accredited by EUGMP, it has also commenced its business in Europe and other countries, where EUGMP is an acceptable quality standard. U.S. market being its next target, Zim intends to get U.S. FDA accreditation for its manufacturing facility.

“Presently, we are focused on developing differentiated products for regulated market, as they will have very few competitors in those markets,” anticipates Dr. Anwar. To provide its customers with more such uniquely differentiated & specialty products and expand its product range, the company is upgrading its existing technologies for including newer molecules using innovative ways. It aims to roll-out a new technology platform to enable robust & cost-effective manufacturing of large molecules, customized and low-volume production of intelligent medicine. Besides its plan to offer a range of nutraceutical products to supportits PFI and finished formulation customers, Zim's blueprint for the next five years also involves adding a separate R&D centre for regulated markets, enhancing capacity & flexibility by appropriate CAPEX, and leveraging e-Commerce platform for marketing nutraceutical& OTC products. Judging by its stark focus on patient convenience& adherence, ZimLaborateries seems all set to make a bigger positive impact and place India on the global map for differentiated pharmaceutical products.

Dr.Anwar S. Daud
(M.Pharm, PhD), Managing Director
Responsible for vision & overall growth strategy of ZIM and the co-inventor of many process patents, Dr.Anwar leads the company’s R&D and export business since its inception. He was honored for contribution to the pharmaceutical profession by CIPPARA, felicitated by the CIBMRD - Nagpur in 2004, and awarded at by the hands of Shri Nitin Gadkari in 2017.

Quick Facts
Headquarter: Nagpur

•Pre-Formulation Intermediates: Pellets, Taste-masked PFIs and DC granules

•Finished Formulations: Powders, Granules & Tablets, Capsules, Dry Syrups and Thin Films

•End-to-End support: Product Development/Co-Development/Out-Licensing, Country-Specific Registration Dossiers, Manufacturing & Supply and Marketing Support

Awards & Recognitions:
• Vidarbha Udyog Gaurav Award – 2018 by Vidharbha Industrial Association

• Pharma Export Excellence Award – 2017 by Express Pharma, Indian Express Group

• IPA ACG SciTech Award for Best Innovation in Solid Dosage Form - by India Pharmaceutical Association

• Excellence in R&D Award in 5th Annual India Pharma Awards - 2017