By Nikkhil K Masurkar,
Contributing immensely to global health, the Indian pharmaceutical industry by volume is the 3rd largest in the world. In (2021-2022) FY22, the pharmaceutical industry recorded a growth of 9-11 per cent which was mainly driven by a push from emerging and domestic markets. By showing strength and commitment amid the disruption caused by the pandemic, the industry not only exhibited its ability to provide adequate medicines but contributed significantly to other areas like sanitation, preventive healthcare and quarantine facilities. It was through careful evaluation of the possible use of available drugs along with innovative approaches to fight the pandemic, the industry was able to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19. Going forward to 2022, it is expected that the Indian pharmaceutical industry will foster a culture of R&D and innovation to enable rapid drug discovery and development to improve the health outcomes of people worldwide. Here are some critical areas to look at if India is to become the top pharmaceutical market in the world:
Developing and Utilising Talent
It is the need of the hour to focus on generating skilled human capital by upgrading the curriculum of pharmaceutical studies to meet industry prerequisites. The pharma industry presently employs over 2.7 million people in high skill areas like R&D and manufacturing. With intellectual potential infused into business functions across silos, the Indian pharma industry can increase its efficiencies and achieve its vision of becoming a $130 billion industry by 2030. This will also enable the industry to establish expertise in innovation-heavy and speciality pharmaceutical areas like novel biologics and biosimilars, complex generics as well as preventive medication.
A Conducive and Robust Ecosystem
Driving innovative capabilities into commercial success is only possible when all stakeholders of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry—healthcare professionals, patients, policymakers, pharma industry players, academic experts, auxiliary industries—are involved in an integrated endeavour to push the industry to new heights. An efficient, strong and simple regulatory system can quicken the drug discovery process. With the help of a ‘single-window’ system, it would be possible to streamline the whole drug development process and facilitate fast approvals of commercially viable projects by eliminating multiple regulatory bodies. To encourage investment in innovation and R&D by the private sector, funding avenues like venture capital, budgetary support, CSR and novel financial instruments to fund long-term projects or high-risk projects can be explored. Also, policymakers must aid in fostering a culture of innovation by assisting in the overall development of research aligned with industry requirements.
To foster the growth of our talent pool and identify projects worth the investment, it is important to increase industry-academia collaboration through infrastructure enhancement and emphasise extensively on the development of industry-driven centres of excellence and incubation centres.
Last but in no way the least significant, a central group is required who will enable ongoing collaboration with stakeholders, engage in dialogues and provide thought leadership to set India firmly on its path to being the pharma leader of the world.
The outbreak of the pandemic, re-shifted the industry’s focus on leveraging digital technologies.
Presently, digitisation is a key component to deliver life-saving drugs to patients. Utilising technologies like AI, Big Data, Machine Learning, IoT and analytics will help accelerate the pharma industry’s vision of ‘Make and Discover in India’. Beyond the scope of drug development, pharmaceutical companies are now leveraging digital technologies to connect with patients. Through intelligent automation, companies are now able to gather an overall insight into a patient’s journey, from diagnosis to diseases management. This data-based insight, in turn, helps improve drug development and subsequently improves patient outcomes. However, it is critical for companies to be mindful and adopt digital technologies that add real value to the business processes, and not just adopt those with an idea to catch on to a trend.
The pandemic has taught the pharmaceutical industry how to utilise capabilities in times of need and importantly turned the attention towards the increasing need for R&D efforts and innovation. The pharma industry is already a well-established presence globally and it just needs to increase its efficiency in affordable yet innovative products which cater to the needs of patients worldwide. Some of the key drivers will be innovation funding, continuous regulatory reforms, and infrastructure and industry-academia collaboration.
(The author is Executive Director, Entod Pharmaceutical. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)