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Business News/ News / India/  Pharma industry seek details on government funding for R&D: IPA

Pharma industry seek details on government funding for R&D: IPA

India’s expenditure on research & development and innovation is very less, the country spends about 0.7% of GDP on research while others spend 2.5-3%. Indian companies spend about 7% on R&D while global firms spend 15-20%

Sudarshan Jain, secretary general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance.Premium
Sudarshan Jain, secretary general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance.

New Delhi: Pharmaceutical firms are looking forward to details for funding, particularly for research & development (R&D), following the announcements made by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Budget for 2023-24, said Sudarshan Jain, secretary general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance in an interview to Mint.

The Budget, presented on 1 February, had announced greater push for research, innovation to boost India’s medical tech industry, among other things.

Jain said India has a strong presence generic formulations, but it lags in research & innovation for complex molecules and high-end medical devices. He said the Budget proposals will help plug this gap. Edited Excerpts:

# How do you see overall budget announcement on pharma sector?

This is a very good move towards increasing thrust on research & development in the pharmaceutical sector because if we see India is “pharmacy of the world" because we are good in manufacturing of the generic drugs. So last year, PLI (Production-linked Incentive) scheme was announced in APIs and it is being taken care of as healthcare security is very important. We are very strong in formulations and supplying medicines to more than 200 countries around the world. The part which was left was research & development. If we have to strengthen our position in the competitive market, then we have to strengthen our efforts for R&D. It is a very good sign that government has announced that it is the priority area for them and announced pharma research innovation program through centres of excellence. They have also announced ICMR labs for public and private research. They have also announced AI CoEs because AI will help for the development of molecule faster. So, overall, it is a big move.

#What kind of support does pharma industry need for R&D?

First, we want regulatory reforms as we want simpler and faster approvals for development of products in India. Second, is academic collaboration and ICMR like labs will lead to better industry-academic collaboration. Third, is the setting up enabling infrastructure as we see in Israel, the US, Singapore—they have created innovation clusters. The centres for excellence for R&D combines two things - funding and creating enabling environment for doing. We still need the details regarding funding.

#How much India is spending on R&D in comparison with other countries?

Overall, India’s expenditure on research & development and innovation is very less. India spends about 0.7% of GDP on research whereas other countries spend 2.5-3%. Even if you see the investment by companies, it is approx. 7% and global companies spend 15-20%. This is because research is expensive and at the same time unpredictable. It takes 8-10 years to develop a product and even then the outcome is not certain. It is a high-risk activity. The government has recognised this and now it will boost product research and innovation through centres of excellence.

# Budget also talks about strengthening MedTech sector? What are your views?

Technology is important. We import 70-80% of our MedTech requirement. It is important that we start developing these products in India. In fact, during covid-19 we started developing many medical devices. The government has realised that MedTech is a great industry. Courses need to be upgraded, though. The government is also running PLI scheme for MedTech.

# Budget also urged industry to invest in R&D? What are the plans for the industry now?

It is time to get into biosimilars, new chemical entity, new research areas like in oncology. For examples- Sun pharma, Dr Reddys, Glenmark are doing a lot of new research.

# What is the next step industry is looking for after the Budget announcements?

We want details about research and innovation policy in terms of funding. Hopefully, that will be announced soon. This would help companies to take research at advanced level. Over the last few years, the industry has been urging the government and finally the research agenda is moving forward. It is time that India becomes the supplier of affordable innovative drugs to the world.

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Priyanka Sharma
Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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Updated: 06 Feb 2023, 12:39 PM IST
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