The global economic slowdown presents an opportunity for the Indian industry to work on low cost medicines
Mr. Ashok Kumar, Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals, on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, shared the proposed initiatives for making India one of the top five global pharmaceutical innovation hub by 2020. He was speaking at a conference “Pharmaceuticals 2014 : Will India Leap Forward” in ORF Mumbai, organized by FICCI with Dept. of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Govt. of India and Observer Research Foundation (ORF) with a purpose to review and analyse the opportunities and shortcomings and to work on a way forward to achieve a prominent place in the pharmaceuticals industry globally.
The economic and social returns of the proposal are estimated to create 500,000 high end jobs for scientists and specialist, and also provide the country with low cost healthcare for chronic and life threatening ailments including some of the neglected diseases. As a part of this effort, the government will deliberate action on four fronts – infrastructure and manpower, PPP, financial incentives and models as well as a favorable regulatory model for drug / molecule discovery, said Mr Kumar. It is estimated that the annual expense towards achieving the aspirational innovation hub status would be as much as $2 Billion, for which a substantial public private partnership would be required.
The global economic slowdown presents an opportunity for the Indian industry to work on low cost medicines, one of the key strengths that we have. The Jan Aushadhi campaign of the department has made available quality drugs at affordable prices through dedicated stores in some states, and this campaign will be extended to other states.
The Department of Pharmaceuticals created recently by the Government, has primarly been working towards the goal of affordable medication has been assigned several new functions including promotion of research, education and training, PPP, international cooperation, intersectoral cooperation.
Earlier, Mr. Glenn Saldanha, Mg. Director & CEO, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Chairman, National Pharmaceuticals Committee, FICCI in his welcoming remarks observed that the Pharmaceutical sector will be less impacted by the economiuc slowdown, although, it will see cost containment and its impact on R&D projects. The key trends prevailing in the industry today are many drugs going off patent, thereby opening up an opportunity for Generics. Also, with the pipeline for new products drying up, leading to consolidations in the industry, it is compelling some of the large pharmaceutical companies to step into the generic segment, exemplified by the like Daichi-Ranbaxy deal. For Indian companies to capitalize on the opportunity of being global suppliers for generic drugs, emerging out of most governments focus on affordable medicines, there is a need to focus on quality and to maintain high standards for global acceptance.
Mr. Graham Lewis, Vice President-Europe, IMS Health UK jointly with Mr. Sameer Savkur, Mg. Director, ORG IMS Research Pvt. Ltd highlighted the importance of the emerging markets and how the contribution to the growth of the Pharmaceutical industry from historic strategic markets like US, Japan and Europe is declining and will continue to decline in the coming years.
Dr. Ajay Dhankhar, Partner, McKinsey & Company Inc talked about the changes needed in the innovation strategy from the 90s. Whereas the Biotech firms in the last decade were primarily financed by VCs, today the sources of funds have dried up. Consequently, a co-development strategy with Biotech and Pharma companies would be a preferred model leading to network research, and maybe a paradigm shift in how research is being done in the industry.
Concluding the session, Prof. Falguni Sen, advisor (healthcare) to ORF and Professor of Management at Fordham University, agreed that the industry is in a transitional phase and emphasized that ethics, and therefore, public trust would emerge as a key competitive advantage for companies for product acceptance and approvals. He expressed hope that this forum would provide the stimulus to the government and all other stakeholders of the pharmaceutical industry to take concerted steps to make India globally competitive in this crucial sector.
The conference was followed by a closed door meeting on Thursday, March 19, 2009, between industry leaders, government officials and other key stakeholders to deliberate issues for the future of the Pharmaceutical Industry with particular emphasis on the vital area of drug discovery in India. This led to a detailed action plan to accomplish the stated roles of the government, industry and industry associations in this area. The Secretaries to the Departments of Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology welcomed this initiative and promised their full cooperation to ensure that the proposed action points were further fine tuned through a sustained dialogue process and implemented expeditiously.