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Ramesh Shankar
Wednesday, September 13, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Central government has recently released the much anticipated 'National Policy on R&D and Innovation in the Pharma-MedTech Sector in India'. Ever since Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement during the Budget Speech in Parliament on February 1, 2023, the industry has been anticipating a new programme to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals. Apart from the policy, the government has committed Rs. 5,000 crore over five years under the Promotion of Research and Innovation in Pharma MedTech Sector (PRIP) scheme to build an advanced R&D infrastructure across country. This scheme proposes Centres of Excellence in the seven existing National Institutes of  Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPERs). It will also provide financial assistance for research in six priority areas of new chemical and biological entities; complex generics and biosimilars; precision medicines; medical devices; orphan drugs; and drug development for antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The policy sets forth a three-pronged strategy while fostering an environment that nurtures innovation. The first strategy revolves around cultivating a regulatory framework that facilitates R&D. This entails streamlining approvals, minimizing bureaucratic hurdles, and expediting the regulatory process. The second strategic pillar focuses on incentivizing both public and private investments in research and innovation through a judicious blend of fiscal and non-fiscal measures. Financial incentives like tax benefits and grants can act as catalysts for increased investments in R&D. The third and equally vital component of the policy centres around establishing an enabling ecosystem that nourishes innovation and translational research, and setting up a robust institutional foundation for sustainable growth.
Of course, the government’s new initiatives will help transform the Indian pharma and medtech sectors from cost-based to innovation-based growth by strengthening the research infrastructure in the country. The scheme will promote industry-academia linkage for R&D in priority areas and will inculcate the culture of quality research and nurture our pool of scientists. This will lead to sustained global competitive advantage and contribute to quality employment generation in the country. By providing a conducive environment for innovative research, India can effectively leverage its scientific talent to generate ground-breaking solutions to address pressing global medical challenges. Certainly, focusing on certain priority areas will help Indian pharma industry leapfrog and radically strengthen its position in the world market and building world class research atmosphere at NIPERs by establishing CoEs will make a talent pool of qualified scientists.  At present, a major component of Indian exports are low value generic drugs while a large-proportion of the demand for patented drugs is met through imports. This is because the Indian pharmaceutical sector lacks in high value production along with world class pharma R&D. To encourage the global and domestic players to enhance investment and production in these product categories, a well-designed and suitably targeted policy intervention was required to promote specific high value goods such as bio-pharmaceuticals, complex generic drugs, patented drugs or drugs nearing patent expiry, cell based or gene therapy drugs, etc. So, the government’s new policy intervention, as experts say, is a watershed moment in India’s journey towards global leadership in healthcare innovation. By weaving together regulatory reforms, investment incentives, targeted funding and a vibrant ecosystem, India can unlock the untapped potential of its scientific community, nurture breakthrough solutions that transcend borders and elevate its stature to a global innovation hub for pharma and medtech sectors. Definitely, the new R&D policy will unleash India's huge research & innovation potential and will prove to be a game changer in the long run.


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Farhan Hussain Sep 18, 2023 12:51 PM
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