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Union Health Ministry seeks synergy in fragmented healthcare industry

Saturday, 9 August 2014 - 7:55am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

The health ministry is working towards bringing all the healthcare related departments under one fold over the next five year period and put in place a health policy in the near term to increase healthcare access for the people, a senior government official said on Friday.

Rajendra Pratap Gupta, advisor in public policy, economy, rural development, healthcare, retail, innovation, on the sidelines of healthcare access summit organised by the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India in Mumbai, said, "One of the biggest lacuna is that the health industry is spread across different departments and the best way to bring synergy is to conversion of related departments under one. I think the health ministry is also thinking the same."

However, Gupta said that bringing all departments will not be done immediately, but it will happen over a five years term. He also said that a health policy is also underway.

Gupta, who has authored the manifesto of the new government, said the first step is to have a health policy in place. The other requirement is to bring down the out-of-pocket spending, increase in the healthcare access, increase in the quality of care and the use of new technology. The other major thrust would be on upgrading the government hospitals and provision of latest technology and diagnostics. He also said that the government would set up the National e-Health Authority but that depends on which phase it gets rolled out.

On the recent decision of National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to bring more drugs under price control, Gupta said, "It is very clear that the patient interest will be above everyone and whatever it takes to be there will be there."

However, Shailesh Ayyangar, president, OPPI and managing director, India & vice president, South Asia, Sanofi, said, "When the price regulator decided on bringing a list of essential medicines under price control in 2013, it organised a discussion with all the industry stakeholders. If there could be a discussion then, why not now? The issue is it was done unilaterally, without having any discussion with the industry."

While the case is now subjudiced after some of the industry stakeholders including IPA, OPPI moving court against NPPA's recent decision to bring 108 more formulations under price control, manufacturing of these products may have to stop unless there is the court decision.

Said Ranjit Shahani, vice chairman and managing director, Novartis, "I think companies will stop manufacturing, otherwise stocks would be there and you have to re-label them. Which means there is a gap and there is uncertainty over the court decision, uncertainty over what the government might do and so there's going to be certain disruptions some way or the other."

While Shahani said that till a court decision or a consensus is reached, the medicines will be sold at the old price, Aijaz Tobaccowala, managing director, Pfizer, said, "As far as I know, till there is a change, it's on the go. I think we don't have a choice."

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