[email protected]: Will pharma become $600 bn industry?
There is need for collaboration between industry, govt and academia to catalyse innovation and growth in the pharma sector
To achieve the gargantuan target, government's intervention is also required in certain policy areas. There is need to develop people and skills – filling gap between industry and academia, skilling industry, strengthening the SME sector by special incentives, developing policies and incentives for upstream capacity building in APIs and specialty chemicals, and providing investment based or outcome-based incentives in research (R&D centres)
To commemorate India completing 100 years of Independence, the Indian government has begun work on a blueprint for a future ready [email protected] - a vision plan for the next 25 years under the rubric of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to take the country to the next level of growth. The 'vision plan' targets to attain new heights of prosperity of the country, making best facilities available both in the villages and the cities, eliminating unnecessary interference by the government in the lives of citizens, and building world's most modern infrastructure. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO), as well as the Cabinet Secretary, has assigned 10 Sectoral Group of Secretaries (SGOS) to create a blueprint for the [email protected] plan and finalise the 2047 plan by May 2022. SGoS has been given instructions to identify the achievable targets within the stipulated time, set realistic targets, timelines and milestones for the 2047 plan, as these will act as the 'foundation for future growth' of the country.
While NITI Aayog and other think-tanks are burning the midnight oil to create a blueprint for the [email protected] plan, the pharmaceutical industry in the country has drawn up an ambitious target of making the Indian pharmaceutical industry a $600-billion industry in the next 25 years. Of course, from a mere Rs10 crore in 1948 to more than Rs2 lakh crore at present, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has undisputedly grown by leaps and bounds. Indeed, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has seen an envious growth, exporting affordable quality medicines to more than 200 countries in the world, including the developed countries like the US and Europe. By any standard, it is a great feat for a sector which was dominated by the multinational pharma companies until 1970's. Even though it has come a long way to adorn the epithet of 'the pharmacy of the world', the Indian pharma industry's vision of becoming a US$ 600 billion size by 2047 is a herculean target.
To achieve that target, a slew of measures are needed to be taken by the Indian government. India needs to develop huge capabilities for manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), key starting materials (KSMs), basic chemicals, and critical excipients. Besides, several steps should be taken including upgrading academia, introducing regulatory reforms and government's handholding to facilitate innovation and growth of the industry. There is an urgent need for promoting India's pharmaceutical exports with RoW (rest of the world) countries like China, Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, and Turkey. As more than 50 per cent of India's pharma exports go to the RoW countries, which include all the emerging markets, India should initiate measures for signing mutual recognition agreement with RoW countries which are not a part of Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme (PICS), which account for almost 140 countries, to accept GMP issued by Indian regulators as evidence of GMP in order to waive inspections. This would enable quick and seamless access of these markets by WHO GMP certified Indian manufacturers. Besides, there is an urgent need for developing innovation and R&D Centres of Excellence (CoE) for pharma and biologics in order to prepare the industry for going up the value chain as well as building expertise in digital and data driven technologies for development, manufacturing and supply chain in pharmaceuticals and healthcare.
To achieve the vision of becoming a $600 billion industry, there is need for collaboration between industry, government and academia to catalyse innovation and growth in the pharma sector. Also there is the need for introducing reforms in laws and regulations aimed at promoting the growth of the industry through ease of doing initiatives, reducing compliance burden, decriminalization of minor offenses, modifying the pricing framework to take into account the uncertainties and volatilities. But, changes in the pharma regulations should be done phase-wise keeping in mind that the country has to address the national needs, that of affordability and quality, and the role of SMEs in nation building. At the same time, aligning with global standards – WHO GMP, ICH and PICS should also be a long-term goal with suitable handholding.
To achieve the gargantuan target, government's intervention is also required in certain policy areas. There is need to develop people and skills – filling gap between industry and academia, skilling industry, strengthening the SME sector by special incentives, developing policies and incentives for upstream capacity building in APIs and specialty chemicals, and providing investment based or outcome-based incentives in research (R&D centres).
(The author is freelance journalist with varied experience in different fields)