Goyal moots meet on pharma industry issues


Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal has proposed a meeting of the pharma industry to discuss issues that it faced and find solutions to them.

“Sometime in the second week of March, I will get the pharma industry together to spend a day with me. Let’s dissect various issues plaguing the industry,” he told the BioAsia 2020 CEO Conclave here on Tuesday.

Heads and top-level executives of Novartis, Sun Pharma, Piramal Group, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, and MSD spoke on the challenges and opportunities for the industry as well as the work being undertaken to improve access to medicine. Moderating the conclave on ‘Playing Catch up or preparing to lead’, Telangana Industries and IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao highlighted several issues that the industry battled, from IP infringement to price control.

“I heard different suggestions of what we could learn from world examples, [how in] specific products like sterile injectables there is a window of opportunity for India to take pole position. The [need for] faster approvals and getting together manufacturing [units], research [institutions] and universities [in] a confluence of stakeholders,” Mr.Goyal said.

He said leading medical schools, universities and government bodies such as CSIR may also be called for the meeting. “I think if all of us sit down and put our heads together, we can find solutions to all these issues, be they clinical trials, environmental concerns, issues around economies of scale, developing better clusters,” he asserted. There is also scope to develop empowered bodies that can look at faster dissemination of problems of the industry and work with State governments and the Centre.

He suggested the meeting towards the conclusion of the conclave, in which the need for continuing tax breaks on research and development expenditure was highlighted by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories chairman and head of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance Satish Reddy.

“I understand the importance of tax breaks, Satishji,” he said, pointing that the incentive was given at a particular point of time when the country was trying to attract a particular business segment. “For a variety of reasons, one must also accept that there will always be a sunset [clause] for every impetus given. I think we all have to look at engaging in more innovative ways…” Mr.Goyal said.

On price control, he said it was “here to stay and needed in an emerging economy and [for] taking healthcare to the vast masses. Price control has worked hugely for India”. The Union Minister also added that the Centre’s plan to transform India into a $5 trillion economy would be incomplete without providing quality of life.

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