Govt officials promote India as ‘Healthcare provider to the world’
Viveka Roychowdhury & Usha Sharma
The third edition of iPhex 2015, promoted by the Pharmaceutical Exports Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt of India, kicked off successfully in Mumbai.
The show has attracted global drug regulators, pharmaceutical as well as machinery manufacturers.
Explaining the rationale and focus of the event, Rajeev Kher, Secretary, Department of Commerce said that this year there is a concerted effort to promote India, not just as the ‘Pharmacy of the world’ but as the ‘Healthcare provider to the world’. He revealed that ministry officials have visited various countries in the past few months to promote India’s capabilities in medical devices, healthcare services and pharma machineries, in addition to the country’s proven expertise in pharmaceuticals.
He also mentioned that Indian pharma exports have improved in the last one year. India exports $15 billion worth medicines, of which more than 55 per cent were to regulated markets. The US with 28 per cent is the India’s largest pharma export destination followed by the European Union. He made the point that these figures indicate that Indian medicines have established themselves as affordable and reliable across the world.
Push for APIs
Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Minister of Chemicals and Fertiliser, Chief Guest inaugurated the three-day long event. Commenting on the performance of the Indian pharma industry and its sizeable contribution to GDP, he said that we export nearly 50 per cent of production to over 200 countries and with the Prime Minister’s support, this can go up to even 75 per cent. Taking a dig at the coal mining industry and the recent travails facing that sector, he said, “While other industries take (natural resources) from India, the pharma industry has consistently made (medicines) for India,” earning a round of applause from the audience.
Realising the urgency of need for the country to make sufficient quantities of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), he requested bulk drug manufacturers to become self reliant and focus on API manufacture. He also disclosed that the Telangana government has helped create Bulk Drug Park with the intention to promote and scale up production of bulk drugs and APIs the industry. Kher later indicated that the ministry plans to set up at least four to five such mega bulk drug/API parks and is scouting for suitable locations across India.
He lamented that even though the industry has the skills and talent, 60-70 per cent alumni from reputed institutes like NIPER Mohali opt to go abroad. He also pointed out that the pharma industry in India always had the talent and capabilities, but had not been able to capitalise on it and retain skilled professionals in India. As a result, Indian pharma professionals are helping developed countries develop drugs for their needs, rather than for the country.
Pitch for Maharashtra
Dr Harshdeep Kamble, Commissioner, FDA Maharashtra said, “In step with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will soon be launching the ‘Make in Maharashtra’ programme. Since Maharashta has the maximum number of US FDA approved manufacturing facilities, we are planning to have two-day pharma conclave as part of this launch programme.”
Emphasising the state’s pre-eminent position in the pharma industry, Girish Bapat, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Protection made the point that Maharashtra accounts for 60 per cent of the domestic market and as much as 23 per cent of the country’s pharma exports. But he also cautioned that the state government is firm that the pharma sector should remember that it is not just another business and cannot ignore its social responsibilities.
Pitching Maharashtra as a preferred business destination, he appealed to global pharma manufacturers to increase their business activities with the state. “Our approach is constructive. We have taken steps to increase ease of doing business. As a minister of Maharashtra state, I assure the industry of all support.” He also projected that the state is targeting to register a growth of 10-12 per cent from the domestic market in the current fiscal itself.
Policies in the pipeline
Dr GN Singh, DCG(I) said that his office has taken several steps towards increasing the ease of regulation to create a more conducive business environment. The results will be seen in a few years, when the regulatory mechanism will go completely paperless while still retaining the stringency levels required.”
Sudhanshu Pandey, Joint Secretary, Dept of Commerce, Government of India made the point that the focus has been on the quality since the last two years. Referring to the challenges faced by the Indian pharma industry in the recent past, he said most of these cases were related to data integrity and faulty documentation procedures rather than actual to quality issues. He said that the ministry had organised several workshops with global regulators and quality consultants to make Indian pharma companies realise the importance of demonstrating and documenting evidence of quality in addition to making quality products.
Ashutosh Gupta, Chairman, Pharmexcil said that the industry feels the new positivity, thanks to support from Kher and his ministry. They are confident of converting challenges into opportunities and opportunities into gain.
Over the next three days, the organisers of the show are expecting to host over 20,000 potential buyers including 450 overseas buyers from 90 countries at the exhibition. Over 40 drug regulators will be attending the event from 15-20 countries. The event is co-located with PHARMA Pro&Pack Expo 2015, a show for pharma machinery manufacturers.