A viable futuristic budget for pharma and healthcare sectors
Support to R&D in pharma sector can help India become a global leader in pharma innovation
This also evidences the Centre's progressive thinking and commitment to improve the healthcare sector across all spheres. It shows that the government recognizes the fundamental interdisciplinary nature of medical devices industry. The government will establish facilities in select ICMR laboratories, which will be made available for research by public and private medical college faculty and private sector research teams so as to boost collaborative research and innovation. This will ignite innovations and make for a healthy public and private enterprises' collaborative research
In a progressive future thinking, the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed a series of progressive measures for the country's pharmaceutical, healthcare and related sectors in Union Budget 2023-24.
The budgetary proposals will create an ecosystem for growth with fiscal prudence of life-sciences, pharma and medical technology. From strengthening nursing workforce and eradicating sickle cell anemia to supporting research and innovation for pharma, building digital technology and relief for MSMEs, the budget will surely focus on compliances to enhance ease of doing business in these sectors.
In a welcome move, the new programme to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals across centres of excellence indicates the government's avowed focus on enhancing healthcare infrastructure. This will encourage the industry to invest in research and development in specific priority areas.
Support to R&D in the pharma sector is a timely move as it will help India become a leader in pharma innovation on the global stage. The centres of excellence will help India move up the value chain in the life sciences sector. Moreover, research-oriented incentives and policies can also elevate the Indian pharma industry to become the global hub for R&D, bio-innovation and bio-manufacturing.
In another significant announcement, the Finance Minister has stated that the government will launch dedicated multidisciplinary courses for the medical devices sector in order to have skilled manpower in place. It is in the fitness of things that these courses will be supported in existing institutions to make available skilled manpower and empowering them for futuristic medical technologies, high-end manufacturing and research, for both pharma and bio-pharma sectors. This also evidences the Centre's progressive thinking and commitment to improve the healthcare sector across all spheres. It shows that the government recognizes the fundamental interdisciplinary nature of medical devices industry.
In yet another welcome move, the government will establish facilities in select Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) laboratories, which will be made available for research by public and private medical college faculty and private sector research teams so as to boost collaborative research and innovation. This decision will help bridge infrastructure gaps in the country's research eco-system. This will ignite innovations and make for a healthy public and private enterprises' collaborative research. The redeeming feature is that it will give impetus to high-end research and manufacturing that will put qualitative medical access within the reach of the common man.
Sitharaman has announced setting up of 157 new nursing colleges, which is really a good step as it can effectively cater to the ever-growing demand for qualitative care by trained paramedical staff. Investment towards nursing colleges and focus on medical education are progressive moves. In fact, public private partnerships (PPP) would be encouraged to ensure that the government gets adequate support from private players. This will help establish more and more nursing colleges. This will significantly improve the nurse-to-patient ratio while also adding to the resource pool of skilled healthcare technicians.
India is moving towards increased adoption of technology in healthcare and the creation of an AI-based centre of excellence is bound accelerate the trend. The focus on R&D in drugs and pharmaceuticals has the potential to spur innovation and help achieve the quest to emerge as a global leader in this segment. An equally progressive and welcome, step is the planned mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047, through awareness creation, counselling and screening of seven crore under-40 age-group people in the worst-hit tribal areas. Though belated, it is a case of better late than never. The laudable program can play a critical role in the development and implementation of future programs focused on the prevention and management of non-communicable diseases that are expected to account for over 75 per cent of the country's burden by 2025. Overall, budget 2023 is a progressive one and augurs well for the country.
(The author is a freelance journalist with varied experience in different fields)