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Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru July 31 , 2020
The Indian pharma and biotech sectors see the need for a sound policy to accelerate growth and competitiveness. The policy should not just focus on infrastructure creation but provide lucrative tax benefits. This along with a minimised price control mechanism will foster development of the sectors, said a panel of industry experts.

The world is looking at India for pharmaceuticals and biologics as the country is known for affordability and accessibility of drugs. But the limiting factor for the country is the over dependence on China for raw materials. This led India to lose its market share substantially against China, noted an expert panel at the CII virtual PharmaCon2020 event.  

Sandeep Singh, managing director, Alkem Laboratories, said that a big step in the direction to become self-reliant is the government’s productivity linked incentive (PLI) scheme for the API sector. Now the industry needs to plan strategically to strengthen its capability as a key supplier to the world. This COVID-19 pandemic has given the industry a wake-up call to show how the world is dependent on India and also for the country to shift away from its China dependence.

“Our pharma sector has faced several challenges but this industry has the tenacity to achieve milestones. The world is appreciating India as our expertise comes to the fore”, he added.

In his keynote address, Dr Murtaza Khorakiwala, managing director, Wockhardt said that the industry needs a policy to give the sector the much-needed direction. In order to drive growth, price control mechanism needs to be minimised to a larger extent. This would give the stability and certainty in pricing which would give our pharma entrepreneurs a high degree of confidence. In the new emerging landscape, government needs to extend tax incentives to spur innovation.

The long-term growth plans of the industry should consist of a strategy alignment between vision and execution. There should also be policy certainty, minimizing of price control, strengthening workforce with hiring and skill-set development, he added.

In the area of research, there should a 200 per cent credit, patent box innovation and ecosystem. There should be an access to $1 billion research grant in areas like genetics and regenerative medicine. Pharma manufacturing should be localised. Medical devices has a large domestic market aopportunity . We also need to tap new technologies, he said.

Providing a 5 ‘S’ formula of safety, speed, scientific, simplify and stability in the area of regulatory reforms, Dr Khorakiwala said that safety of patients needs to be given importance. Speed of approval to remain competitive in the market was vital. Regulators needed to speed up approvals for innovation to come out fast into the market. There is need to ensure complex regulations are simplified.  The policy decisions need to be stable and do not change frequently. “This is the only way for the industry to move forward in a competitive and confident manner to create a strong position in the global arena.”

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