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India's health, biopharma sectors deserve more attention

By Lalit K Jha
June 12, 2015 12:10 IST

PharmaIndia's health and biopharma sectors deserve better attention from the government to realise their full potential and provide cheaper facilities to millions of patients, leading industry experts and academicians have said.

During a day-long US-India BioPharma and Healthcare Summit, top industry leaders, experts and academicians hoped that the new Indian government will bring in ‘predictable, transparent and pragmatic regulatory policies’ which would positively change the country's BioPharma and Healthcare Innovation landscape.

Noting a regulatory environment which is more ‘enabling than restrictive’ is required for innovation, a position paper prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers said India should explore programmes and incentives for encouraging non-traditional organisations to partner with the government, academia and harmaceutical companies to enable and accelerate drug development.

India is well positioned to establish a significant oncology presence with respect to life cycle management, said the report released at the summit organised by the USA-India Chamber of Commerce.

In his message to the conference, Union Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said the success rates are low for new drug discovery and development, especially from the perspective of modern science.

"The exorbitant cost of drug development and also the highly competitive nature of the domain leave little room for aggressive innovation. We need to find newer and innovative ways to overcome the prevailing situation," Vardhan said.

Participating in one of the panel discussions, Chairman and MD of Biocon Limited Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said oncology is a huge challenge for India. But this is one area where India can play a big role and help in reducing the cost of treatment and medicine, she said.

"Oncology is one area where patients (in India) are very keen to be part of the drug trial. Enrolment rate for cancer drug is much higher in India than in other parts of the world.

“This is one area where patients want to try a new drug," she said.

The major theme for discussing this year's summit was oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic disease and neurodegenerative diseases.

"Health and innovative BioPharma have not received the attention they deserve in India," rued USAIC president Karun Rishi.

In his message, Union Health Minister J P Nadda called for ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ for innovation in healthcare.

According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report prepared for USAIC, Indian pharma companies are not putting sufficient capital at risk to develop breakthrough products nor are they investing heavily in novel therapeutics.

Lalit K Jha in Boston
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