Delhi IPC gives new hopes for pharma industry

Joseph Alexander, New Delhi Thursday, December 19, 2013, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

When the 65th edition of the Indian Pharmaceutical Congress (IPC) unfolds at Amity University, Noida near Delhi - the heartland of regulations- from December 20 to 22, the overwhelming feeling will be of hope - that will come alive in different degrees and in myriad forms not just for pharma, but its allied sectors too.

With the strong presence of regulatory officials, the IPC raises hope of making it a watershed event in the regulatory scenario, now undergoing strong changes. With the attendance of thousands of professionals, the event gives hope for the industry to draw a fresh lease of life, especially for the North India. As eminent academicians and speakers gather, the brainstorming of IPC gives chances for churning out new ideas. For hundreds of students, it will give a new ray of hope for their future, in the form of learning and job opportunities.

At the same time, the patient population in the country will definitely wish that IPC will make a difference in their lives, by improving the quality of healthcare through a pharmacist or a practitioner or through a drug manufacturer or a teacher.

The preparations are over and it is time for action, with power-packed presentations, networking of business, mind-boggling idea sharing, display of the latest technology and advancements in the industry and in-depth deliberations to decide the future course of Indian pharmacy trade and practices.

After a long gap, Delhi is hosting this prestigious event which is billed as the largest gathering of stakeholders from the pharma and allied industries in the country. The capital city has hosted the IPC seven times before- i.e. in the years of 1955, 1960, 1973, 1985, 1993, 2001 & 2008.

With more than 5000 delegates, including prominent scientific personalities and intellectuals from the pharmaceutical industry, research and development, regulatory departments, quality control, hospitals, community pharmacy, academic fields, marketing, pharmaceutical consultants, policy- makers, state and central agencies, the event is going to be the biggest gathering of stake-holders.

The organizers have received more 1750 presentations and posters, indicating the interest it could generate in the field. Among the speakers, 25 are going to be from abroad, making it the strongest platform of idea-sharing.

“The focus of the event will be in-depth panel discussions on industry, regulatory and educational aspects. The event will come out with strong recommendations in these areas,” said organizing secretary, Dr Arun Garg.

The theme for the conference is “Pharma Vision 2020: Empowering Pharmacist.” The event will also have a dedicated expo involving over 200 stalls and job fair for the students community.

“The Delhi edition of the IPC will make a difference from the earlier editions in many ways. The theme of the conference is chosen to bring out the excellence in pharmacy education and practices”, according to IPCA president Atul Kumar Nasa.

“IPC is going to bring together experts from different friends and will discuss the current problems in pharmacy and allied fields, so that it could contribute highly to making the much-needed correction in all related sectors,” says Prof S S Agarwal, who is advisor to IPC.

“The event is going to deliberate upon various issues confronting the industries as a whole and the overall growth of pharma sector. The event assumes significance in the present day economic scenario where India is not only competing with the developed nations in the pharma sector but has emerged as a world leader in generic drugs,” according to R C Juneja, chairman of the Local Organising Committee and the managing director of Mankind Pharma.

“Wide ranging topics from scientific, regulatory and technology to professional practice will ensure wide coverage to meet the sectoral interests of all,” says Ashok K Chauhan, chief patron of IPC and the founder-president of Ritnand Balved Education Foundation (RBEF).

Regulatory presence
One of the key highlights of the event will be the presence of a large number of regulatory personnel including top officials, as the event is being held in Delhi. The presence of these key regulatory officials will give strong direction to the deliberations on the current regulatory issues like the pending Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bills for establishing central drug authority.

The ongoing issues related to clinical trials, following the strong regulatory interventions and court cases, the apprehensions of the pharmacist community with regard to the antibiotic policy, changes in the Pharmacy Act, fixed dose combination issue etc will come up for discussions at different levels, according to the organisers.

“Delhi being a centre of attraction as the regulatory machinery is also there, there is every possibility that regulators will participate in this event. Had this event been somewhere else, the participation of Regulatory Agency would have been limited but Delhi being the venue, their involvement is going to be full and whole hearted,” points out B R Sikri, a prominent industry leader and the chairman of a task force of IPC.

Drug Controller General of India Dr G N Singh, senior officials from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, officials from the Department of Pharmaceuticals and State Drug Control officials will be among the vast number of bureaucrats to be present at the event.

“After detailed deliberations, we hope to come out with some strong resolutions which will help the regulatory machinery to amend the policies in pharma and related areas,” said Dr Garg.

Boost to North Indian industry
Though North India had once been a strong hold of pharma industry, it now basks only in the glory of the past. Despite the fact it was a pioneer for the industry several decades ago, most of them have shifted bases. Except for the units in the excise free zones of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, other areas of North India are no more lucrative destinations for the entrepreneurs.

Since IPC is taking place in Delhi, it is watched as a key event that can give a fillip to the North Indian industry, as IPC will be bringing together the leading lights from the industry for three days.

“North India came in the limelight a decade ago because of the government announcement of excise free zone mainly in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu areas. Ever since this scheme was announced there have been positive and negative sides of the pharmaceutical industry,” said Sikri, adding that SME segment is bleeding because of various changes being brought for upgradation of plants etc by way of investment on Scheme M compliance, Schedule L compliance, etc.

The industry in general also looks towards this event with keen interest. “Government is aware of some of the bottlenecks and concerns being faced by the pharma industry and should make efforts for ensuring continuous growth of the industry,” said Juneja.

Gathering of scientific luminaries
The scientific symposiums to be held along with the IPC would cover wide-ranging topics relevant to the industry and the pharmacy trade. More than 100 eminent speakers will take part in the seminars. There will be Presidents’ symposium on empowering pharmacists, in line with the theme of the conference. The other topics for the symposiums will include ‘Standardization of Biological products’, ‘Advances in Regulatory Sciences and Education,’, ‘Pharma industry from here to where,’ ‘Role of Community pharmacist in implementing Public health policy,’, ‘Molecular Cardiovascular Pharmacology,’ ‘Pharma Policies and Export,’ ‘Empowering Pharma students through leadership development,’ ‘Drug development regulations,’ and ‘Strategies to strengthen prac tice services.’

Theme in tune with times
In tune with the recent developments, the conference has selected “Pharma Vision-2020: Empowering Pharmacist” as the theme. Scientific deliberations will be focused around this theme, apart from the plenary sessions on the topic.

“There is an urgent need to reinforce and rebuild standards with statutory bodies and to restore the confidence of pharmacy graduates. The quality of education has to be improved by industrial/hospital participation so that the stake-holders are accepted in the global pharmaceutical industry. The regulatory policies of India need to be harmonized, so that India becomes the global leader in generic market, API and other pharmaceutical business also,” says IPCA president A K Nasa.

“In recent years, the profession of pharmacy has shown exponential growth. In the current changing global scenario, harmonization of regulations in conformance with international norms and practice is the need of the hour. The congress will bring together national and international experts on regulations, health management and health care professionals to discuss opportunities and challenges for health care reforms in India and thus will prove to be a milestone event in the relevant areas and will ensure in providing government with advice and alternative approaches to influence its reform programme so as to develop new systems of affordable health care in the country,” according to Ashok K Chauhan.

Pharma expo
 PHARMAceutical EXPO 2013, one of the key attractions of the IPC, is being organized by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ficci). It will showcase a wide range of products and services, summing up the latest in the industry, with over 200 stalls. Latest technological developments in pharmaceuticals, drugs and formulations, display of latest machinery, plants, laboratory equipment, analytical instruments and clean room equipment will be on display.

Presence or senior executives from the industry, large number of buyers and contract manufacturers will be the attractions for the show. It will also provide platform for business meetings between the top executives to forge new alliances and tie-ups.

Students: Equipping for the future
As in the past, there is a tremendous response from the students of pharmacy and more than 1,750 papers have been accepted for poster presentation in various scientific sessions biz, pharma technology, medicinal chemistry, pharmacognosy, indigenous drugs, herbal formulations and phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology, clinical research and pharmacovigilance, biopharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics and drug metabolism, pharmaceutical analysis and quality assurance, biotechnology and biotherapeutics, hospital, community and clinical pharmacy, pharma education and professional pharmacy, drug regulatory affairs, pharma management, pharmacoeconomics and pharmacoepidemiology.

The event will throw open lot of opportunities to the student community to update their knowledge with the erudite scientific lectures, catching up with the future employers, shouldering with the senior professions, getting practical exposure at the exhibition and reaffirming their values as a pharmacist. This year, the organisers have put up a job fair for the student community and the pharmacists.

Indian Pharmaceutical Congress Association (IPCA), the main organizer of the event, is a federation of five associations, namely, Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA), Indian Pharmacy Graduates Association (IPGA), Indian Hospital Pharmacists’ Association (IHPA), Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India (APTI), and All India Drugs Control Officer’s Confederation (AIDCOC). This edition is hosted by the IPGA.

The IPCA, as the apex body, thus together represents pharmacists and professionals working with pharma industry, research and development, quality control,academic areas, drug control departments and marketing. The total strength of all five federating associations would be more than 20,000.

The first IPC was organized at Kolkata in December 1948, with Prof. M.L. Schroff as its president. The previous IPC, 64th edition, was held in Chennai.