All bluster and no lustre?

20170228ep06

With little or no financial incentives in Union Budget 2017, the pharmaceutical industry remains deprived of a cure for its ailments

‘The budget has not specifically addressed imminent challenges directly affecting the sector’

20170228ep04The life sciences sector had great expectations from the Budget not only from a fiscal incentives perspective but also from a regulatory angle; more so, given the government’s vision of making India one of the top-three pharma markets by 2020.

However, this year, too, no specific impetus was given to the sector.  While the move to eradicate certain diseases; the proposal to set up two new AIIMS; additional post-graduate medical seats; proposed amendments in the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules; and new rules for medical devices are welcome, the Budget has not specifically addressed imminent challenges directly affecting the sector.

In order to stay competitive in the overseas market and given the uncertain global climate, it was expected that specific impetus or incentives would be given to innovation in the form of weighted deduction on R&D, incentives for patents, exemptions of certain duties and taxes, etc.

These demands remained largely unaddressed, giving no specific reason to cheer for the sector as a whole in 2017–18.

Utkarsh Palnitkar, National Head – Life Sciences Practice, KPMG India


‘The budget provides the necessary impetus to sustain GDP growth at over seven per cent’

20170228ep08Overall, the Union Budget 2017 that was presented earlier today is a step in the right direction. While it has focussed on economic reforms and liberalisation of the economy, it has also allocated funds to bring more irrigation, roads, electricity and sanitation to rural India. Even though the economic survey paints a sober picture for 16-17 primarily due to a weaker second half, the budget provides the necessary impetus to sustain GDP growth at over seven per cent. Lowering tax on MSME’s is a welcome step that would provide a much needed fillip – by creation of jobs and putting more money in their pockets in all sectors including pharma.

The government has shown its clear intent towards fast-tracking inflow of FDI, and the scrapping of FIPB is a notable step that would go a long way in supporting the objective of ease of doing business. Additionally government’s impetus to reduce the borrowing cost and increase access to credit will surely help businesses to grow. We see the biggest ever allocation to the infrastructure sector which would benefit all sectors, including the fast growing pharmas. The FM reiterates his commitment to keep current account deficit and fiscal deficit under control GST implementation as soon as possible.

Glenn Saldanha, Chairman and MD, Glenmark Pharma


‘The budget initiative of STRIVE would be of great help for the Indian pharma industry’

20170228ep07The budget has increased its allocation to Rs 3016 crores, up by 67 per cent and 39 per cent over the budgeted estimate and revised estimate of the last budget. From a pharma industry perspective, the budget initiative of Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE) to be launched in 2017-18 at a cost of Rs 2,200 crores would be of great help for the Indian pharma industry, which has already gone global both in regulated and non-regulated markets.

Hemant Deshpande, CEO, Pollux


‘We hoped for some reform announcements on the regulatory front’

20170228ep09OPPI welcomes the commitment of the Government to – reduce infant and maternal mortality rates; eliminate certain diseases like TB, leprosy, measles and filaria and make structural reforms in medical practice and education.  The Government’s intention of transforming 1.5 lakh health sub-centres is encouraging.  We also appreciate the Government’s intent to amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Act which will be a step towards ensuring patient safety. We had some expectations from the Union Budget 2017-18, given the Government’s past stated intentions of improving access to healthcare. Yesterday’s World Economic Forum said that that India’s public spending on healthcare is much lower than the global average. It is unclear whether the allocations will adequately address current healthcare challenges. We also hoped for some reform announcements on the regulatory front in the form of weighted deduction on R&D, incentives for patents, exemptions of certain duties and taxes, etc.

Kanchana TK, Director General, OPPI


‘There will be significant increase in governmental spend on vaccination and medicinal therapy, hence pharma players in this space would stand to gain’

20170228ep10The Union Budget 2017 was presented in the backdrop of huge aspirations of the healthcare industry as we strive to make healthcare accessible and affordable to each and everyone in the country.

Therefore, healthcare for ‘poor and underprivileged’ being one of the top themes of the government, is a positive sign for the industry. The focus has been largely on digitisation across sectors. The launch of Digi Gaon and Aadhar based health cards is a huge step towards digital revolution in healthcare delivery ecosystem enhancing overall patient care and experience. Access to tertiary health care in India is currently facing a huge challenge due to shortage of doctors. The move to open AIIMS hospitals in Jharkhand and Gujarat, increase in PG medical seats, and impetus to tertiary care centres and specialist doctors will help in addressing the challenge related to availability of healthcare professionals in hospitals and bridge the demand supply gap. The plan to transform 1.5 lakh health sub centres into health and wellness centres is a welcome move which will play a role in decreasing the load on existing healthcare infrastructure and help in further evolution of primary care, prevention and screening, thus reducing the disease burden in the long run.

Furthermore, the government’s plan to eradicate diseases like leprosy and TB is an important step as these constitute major public health challenge that undermine social and economic development of a nation. This action plan will mean that there will be a significant increase in governmental spend on vaccination and medicinal therapy, hence the pharma players in this space would stand to gain with large scale revamp of the current government campaign on such life threatening diseases. The plan implementation will also help in further evolution of other emerging models of healthcare with more private players being interested in this space.

At QuintilesIMS, we capture close to 380 pharma companies who have a sales revenue of less than Rs 50 crores. The number of active pharma companies having a turnover below Rs 50 crores would be over two thousand. As per the current budget announcement, the corporate tax rate for MSMEs having revenues less than `50 crores will be down to 25 per cent. Providing tax relief to such players will improve their bottom-line and growth in the face of stiff pricing competition and high share of voice from the large pharma companies with an army of sales reps and complete portfolio of products.

Amit Mookim, GM, South Asia, QuintilesIMS


‘There is no other major announcement to stimulate or accelerate growth of API manufacturing’

20170228ep11The Union Budget 2017-18 has not made any effect on the pharma industry, other than MSMEs getting some reduction in the tax rate on the profit if they earn it. There is no other major announcement to stimulate or accelerate growth of API manufacturing or the pharma industry as such. It is a neutral budget and I’m glad that they (Central government) didn’t add any tax burden on the users. As for the pharma industry, it has never been a favourite of the government unlike other industries like IT. We were the last looked at in terms of industry, we are what we are despite what the government did not do for us. So, we don’t expect any preferential treatment because we are into life sciences, a knowledge-based industry. We know how to survive in the world, if we can survive in 220 countries I’m sure we can manage in India. With our Prime Minister hoping for inexpensive good healthcare for general public, we would be continuing to make medicines at cheaper cost, without any incentives or enforcement of the government.

Jayant Tagore Madireddy, President, BDMA


‘High allocation to rural sector has set the right tone’

20170228ep12Government’s objective is long term growth and it is trying to rationalise all issues for a good sustainable growth in years to come. High allocation to rural sector has set the right tone. Giving relief to smaller businesses and taxpayer was much needed to widen the tax net as well as incentivise businesses to come into the main stream of financial legitimacy. Initiatives on women empowerment, rural electrification, housing for all, more roads for villages and focus on employment generation will definitely strengthen the rural economy.

Rajiv Gandhi, CEO & MD, Hester Biosciences

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