What are your expectations for the pharma and healthcare sectors from the budget?
For long, the budget has been a non-event for the pharma sector but we would definitely want this to change and the sector should be given its due importance. As pharma and healthcare are critical sectors and involves long gestation and capital intensive ventures, a long standing demand has been to accord `priority status' to them just like infrastructure. This will act as a catalyst for not only attracting funds, but will also provide gainful employment to millions of Indians. We hope that the new government fulfills this aspiration by including pharma & healthcare in priority sectors.
Are there any specific demands for the sectors?
The government should substantially increase its spend on the healthcare and reform the public health system. It should address the critical challenge of providing access to high quality medicines and medical treatment to our 1.2 billion-plus population. It should make universal healthcare a priority and create a road map for ensuring quality, affordability and accessibility of medicines and treatment to the patients at all times. Also, as India unfortunately leads the world in terms of share of disease burden, it should create an ecosystem that encourages innovative R&D in the pharmaceutical space in the form of tax incentives, regulations and grants for various research projects in the sector.
Do you feel the government should offer special incentives to those who are actively involved in research and innovation in the sector?
As India unfortunately leads the world in terms of share of disease burden, innovation leading to new drugs is critical if we are to address unmet medical need in the country. Existing drugs will continue to be important in meeting the growing demand for healthcare, particularly with the increasing use of generic medication. At the same time, advances in disease understanding and the application of new technologies will be required to ensure the delivery of new medicines.
The Indian government needs to implement favourable policies that enhance innovation and drive collaborations, besides addressing issues in critical building blocks like talent and infrastructure. The government's support for innovation R&D is required in the form of tax incentives, regulations and grants for various research projects in the sector.