New Delhi, September 26
In a major boost to the pharmaceutical and medical technology sector, the government on Tuesday formally launched the ‘National Policy on Research & Development and Innovation’ to boost annual exports by nearly Rs 1 lakh crore.
$130 BN Decadal Target
- Indian pharma industry 3rd largest in world by volume
- Known as ‘Pharmacy of the World’, India has market size of USD 50 billion (approx Rs 4,10,000 cr)
- Could grow to USD 120-130 billion (Rs 9,84,000 to Rs 10,66,000 crore) in 10 years, increasing contribution to GDP by 100 basis points
Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Mansukh Mandaviya launched the policy and a new scheme to promote research and innovation in ‘Pharma MedTech Sector’ saying, “The scheme will focus on transforming India into a high-volume and high-value player in the global market of pharmaceuticals, meeting the quality, accessibility and affordability goals. It will also enhance our share in the global value chain.”
Large export potential
- A larger share of global value (40% of a market of USD 6.65 trillion) in pharma sector lies in innovation-based products
- A policy to promote drug discovery and innovation will unlock this value
- Can enhance industry’s contribution to economy by additional USD 10-12 billion (Rs 82,000 to Rs 98,400 crore) in exports every year
- Will create a large pool of white-collar jobs to enhance India’s differentiation vis-à-vis other developing economies
The policy seeks to encourage self-reliance in pharmaceutical sector and was approved by the Union Cabinet in mid-August.
It was necessitated to address focused areas of concern—the high degree of import dependence (mainly on China) for active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and key starting materials (KSMs) for drug production; the relatively low pace of development of biologics, biosimilars and other emerging products/trends; low technological capabilities in high-end scanning and imaging equipment; and need to generate acceptable scientific evidence for mainstreaming of traditional medicines.
Furthermore, the policy will enhance domestic availability and affordability of new age therapeutics. Over the past few decades, disease profile and demographic profile has been evolving in India and new therapies are emerging globally. These include precision medicines, cell and gene therapy, greater reliance on biological products and use of digital tools. But most of the medicines in these categories are imported.
“A policy to foster research and innovation in a focused manner would help,” the government said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic brought to the forefront the role of innovation in expanding the scale, access and affordability of healthcare products, further necessitating the policy by stressing the role of innovation in providing vaccines and medical equipment at large scale.
As part of the policy implementation, the government is also open to a review of the multiple legislation impacting research and development in pharmaceuticals and medical devices could be undertaken to identify areas of friction and design tenable solutions. Some of the areas indicated for such efforts include differentiated handling of research in products that are cultured and cultivated artificially, increasing the number of bodies that can approve pre-clinical trials, enabling joint inspections and licensing mechanisms for traditional medicinal products.
A high-level task force will be set up in the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers to guide and review the implementation of the policy.
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