New Delhi: The Union government will choose a consultant by the end of March to help it set up six drug research and training centres in the country, each costing some Rs200 crore and designed to address a manpower shortage in the Rs65,000 crore Indian pharmaceuticals industry.
The ministry of chemicals and fertilizers has invited bids from 11 consultants to shortlist transaction advisers for its plans to set up National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, or Nipers.
They will come up in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Hajipur in Bihar, Kolkata, Guwahati, and Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh. Four of these—at Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Hajipur—have begun courses from leased premises. One Niper has been operational in Mohali, Punjab, since 1991.
Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu India Pvt. Ltd, Ernst and Young Pvt. Ltd, Feedback Ventures Pvt. Ltd, Grant Thornton UK Llp., International Finance Corp., PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd are among the consultants in the running to help the government set up these institutes.
“Terms of reference have been issued to these 11 players and a consultant will be picked by the end of March,” said a government official with knowledge of the developme-nt, asking not to be identified.
The consultant will prepare detailed project reports, draw up a detailed financial plan for building, infrastructure, equipment and the costs for running the institute for the first few years.
“The consultant will also advise the government on areas where a public-private partnership can be forged, potential partners for it and then work on the (memorandum of understanding) required,” the same official added.
The proposed Nipers will give master’s and doctoral degrees in various branches of drug study such as medicinal chemistry, toxicology, biotechnology and pharmaceutics.
The ministry estimates that once the six new institutes are operational, together with the Mohali facility, they will graduate more than 1,500 students a year. Also, the infrastructure at each Niper will be leased to drug makers for contract manufacturing and research.
Besides addressing the shortage of skilled researchers in the industry, the proposed institutes will drive research on diseases specific to developing countries, one expert said, adding that private collaboration was key.
“Bringing in the private sector is a good model as it can create better understandingof their manpower requirements. Students can benefit from better placements and exposure to contract research projects,” said Monica Sood, Feedback Ventures’ health care practice head.