Chairman’s Message

India Needs Flexible Healthcare Reforms to boost India’s pride in Global Healthcare Map

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Free medicines cannot fix an overburdened public healthcare system in which many hospitals lack up-to-date equipment and doctors. Thus, the free essential drugs scheme is just one of the many steps the government will need to take to ensure universal healthcare. I feel the adoption at the national level of an e-healthcare system like the one followed in Tamil Nadu can help to provide free medicines to those who need them in a transparent and efficient manner.

India is a fertile ground for entrepreneurs, given its large pool of world-class talent and resources. India's ability to generate wealth and create social good will come if we let entrepreneurs flourish by encouraging and enabling innovation. Innovation and biotechnology can transform our numerous challenges – healthcare, education, development, agriculture, environment, and energy among others – into opportunities by developing innovative products that can benefit millions and drive economic growth.

However, unlike in the West where capital markets are willing to invest in innovation for a long term, innovation in India is viewed as high-risk, low gain option and hence not investor-friendly. Investors in India are not prepared to invest in capital intensive long-term innovation based business models. India, therefore, needs a robust innovation "ecosystem." The government needs to establish strong industry-academia linkages to foster the spirit of enterprise and drive employment. However, a national innovation ecosystem is not enough, because if innovation is to flourish, ideas have to be funded to bring them to the market. As a traditionally risk-averse nation, India has rarely been at the forefront of innovation. Indian companies have mostly imitated others and became very good at it. Even in the biotech sector, most companies operate in the low-risk services and generic diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics space.

It is time for biotechnology companies, especially in India and other developing countries, to re-orient their efforts to aggressively harness innovation through partnerships and collaborations to attain the dream of ensuring healthcare for all. The government also needs to be an enabler by putting in place policies that will create a robust innovation "ecosystem" in India. Today, the Indian government has abdicated its responsibility to provide basic healthcare to its people, but it's holding a gun at the pharma industry and asking it to shoulder the burden. The industry has worked very hard to create a cost-effective and competitive sector. It is actually producing the cheapest drugs in the world, but on top of that the government is dictating how much profit the pharma industry is allowed to make. A complete lack of political will and effective administration have kept accessible and affordable healthcare out of the reach of most Indians.

The lack of a universal healthcare system in our country compels patients to bear almost 80% of the healthcare costs directly from their pocket. The opportunity therefore lies in leveraging India's value advantage and scientific excellence to come up with innovative technology for offering world-class products at affordable prices, thus making a huge difference to millions of patients in India.

India's drug industry to touch $48 billion by 2018 Industry may see growth on back of patent expiry of some blockbuster drugs in US and local demand. India's drugs and pharmaceuticals industry is likely to post total sales of Rs.2.91 trillion ($47.88 billion) by 2018, with an average yearly growth of at least 14%, aided by a rapidly growing domestic market and the newly emerging export opportunity as patents of at least a dozen blockbuster drugs in the US expire in the next three years.

I hope all the participants & delegates will have an enriching & rewarding time at the 7th Annual Pharmaleaders Meet.

Mr. Satya Brahma

Chairman & Editor-In-Chief, Pharmaleaders