New Delhi: Two years after India entered the product patents regime, the year 2007 saw Indian drug firms striving to shed the copycat image and become innovators with emphasis on research activities even as they resisted moves to include more medicines under price control.
Four major drug firms -- Dr Reddy’s Laboratory (DRL), Sun Pharmaceuticals, Nicholas Piramal India Ltd (NPIL) and Ranbaxy Laboratories -- spun off their research and development and drug discovery operations into separate units to unlock better value for shareholders and attract funds for new products. The collective market capitalisation of new research entities is estimated to touch $120 billion (Rs4,72,313 crore) in less than a decade.
Simultaneously, the industry is at loggerheads with the government over the controversial National Pharma Policy. The new policy still looms large with a Group of Ministers expected to take it up next month. The industry, however, was successful in buying more time during the year, more by default, as two meetings of the GoM remained inconclusive.
Earlier in January this year, the union cabinet asked Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to head a GoM for discussing the policy that was intensely pursued by Chemicals Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. The GoM held two meetings without any result due to a lack of consensus on the issue of expanding price control to 354 essential medicines, besides the existing 74 drugs under Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), 1995.
The industry has maintained that price control would not help in making medicines more affordable and accessible, but would only discourage crucial R&D.