A PLI-type scheme for 'atmanirbhar' vaccine industry | Mint

A PLI-type scheme for 'atmanirbhar' vaccine industry

While India is a global leader in vaccine production, it imports key raw materials needed for manufacturing. Photo: Bloomberg
While India is a global leader in vaccine production, it imports key raw materials needed for manufacturing. Photo: Bloomberg

Summary

The proposal aims to reduce import dependency for filters, cassettes and cartridges used in vaccine manufacturing.

The government will likely unveil a 2,500 crore financial assistance programme to boost domestic production of vaccine raw materials to enhance self-reliance amid a resurgence of covid cases worldwide, two officials familiar with the development said.

The proposal, similar to the existing production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes, is likely to be part of the budget and aims to reduce import dependency for filters, cassettes and cartridges used in vaccine manufacturing and increase production of immunization shots in the country, the officials said, requesting anonymity.

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While India is a global leader in vaccine production, it imports key raw materials needed for manufacturing. This exposes the country to production disruptions during a pandemic when vaccine demand is high and global supply chains are strained. Therefore, domestic production of raw materials is key to ensuring a reliable supply. India imports a significant amount of vaccine raw materials from countries such as China and the US.

The department of pharmaceuticals under the ministry of chemical and fertilizers is moving a cabinet note on the proposal. Currently, the department of pharma has PLI schemes to promote manufacturing of medicines, bulk drugs, active pharmaceutical ingredients and medical devices.

“We are proposing to expand atmanirbharta (self-reliance) in vaccine manufacturing. We have proposed a financial assistance support scheme for vaccine input material to boost domestic manufacturing. The budget allocation is expected at 2,500 crore. We have been pursuing this project for a year with multiple departments like finance and biotechnology. This may be proposed in the coming budget," one of the two officials said.

In July, the pharma department collated details of domestic manufacturers of various input materials required to manufacture vaccines and biopharmaceuticals. In the process, major vaccine makers gave a list of critical raw materials, including micro-reactor bags, cell culture media, filters, cassettes, cartridges, and chromatography resins. The government has also received requests from industry for possible support to make these materials. “Amid the pandemic, India imported vaccine raw materials from countries like China, and there were issues. So, we have identified this area where atmanirbharta should be increased to strengthen domestic manufacturing," the second official said.

India accounts for 3.5% of total drugs and medicines exported globally. The country exports pharmaceuticals to more than 200 countries, including highly regulated markets such as the US, UK, European Union, and Canada.

“There are several components required to manufacture vaccines. During covid...India supplied over 281 million covid vaccine doses to more than 101 nations. Moreover, 65% of WHO’s procurement of scheduled immunization vaccines is from India," said Uday Bhaskar, director general of pharma exports lobby Pharmexcil.

Queries emailed to the spokespeople for the department of pharmaceutical and finance ministry did not elicit any response.

The Centre is also running a scheme for bulk drug parks for pharma and medical device firms.

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