Budget 2023: what the pharmaceutical industry expects

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India’s Indian pharmaceutical industry aims to grow to about $130 billion by 2030. (File)

New Delhi:

The government should take steps to promote innovation and R&D while simplifying the regulatory environment for the sector in the forthcoming Union budget, according to pharmaceutical industry bodies.

Sudarshan Jain, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), outlined the wish list for the sector in the forthcoming Union budget, saying that the domestic pharmaceutical industry is currently around $50 billion in size and is aiming to grow to around $50 billion. $130 billion in 2030 and $450 billion in 2047.

“To achieve this vision, the 2023-2024 Union budget should help drive innovation and R&D, which will set the pace to move the pharmaceutical industry forward,” he told PTI.

The budget should outline supportive policies, simplified regulations and simple GST standards to help develop the pharmaceutical industry, he added.

IPA is an alliance of 24 leading domestic pharmaceutical companies, including Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Aurobindo Pharma, Cipla, Lupine and Glenmark.

Director General Vivek Sehgal of the Organization of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of India (OPPI) stated that in order to enable the life sciences sector to really contribute to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ vision for India, the government should reverse the shift to a discovery-oriented and science-driven approach through fiscal incentives and supportive policies.

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“The government should introduce R&D-oriented incentives to promote investment, which remains a constant and necessary demand from the industry,” he said.

In addition, the government may consider providing research-linked incentives for companies that make investments to research new drugs, new chemical entities, and/or new biological entities (NBEs) to combat outbreaks and also allow a weighted deduction of 200 percent for companies that perform such R&D (Research & Development), Sehgal said.

Other considerations, such as providing much-anticipated clarification on the patent box regime to encourage Indian innovators, who developed patents in India and reap benefits globally, would also be good initiatives, he added.

OPPI represents research-based pharmaceutical companies in India such as AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Merck, among others.

Amitabh Dube, country president of Novartis India, said that as with the production-linked incentive scheme (PLI), the government should give a boost to the research-linked incentive scheme as it will improve the accessibility of new medicines.

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In terms of healthcare, Shravan Subramanyam, president of industry association Nathealth, said it is imperative to build infrastructure capacities so that people have better access to quality and critical healthcare services. Government viability gap funding is essential to establish hospitals in tier 1 and tier 2 cities, encouraging more investment in healthcare infrastructure, he added.

“We are also witnessing a significant impact on the cost of running a business, which will affect the sustainability of med-tech organizations. Eliminating all arrears for both providers and suppliers under insurance and public procurement would improve availability of health care infrastructure,” he added.

Fortis Healthcare MD & CEO Ashutosh Raghuvanshi said more policy support is needed to encourage and facilitate medically valuable travel to India.

“Another critical area is addressing the shortage of healthcare professionals – identifying physicians, nurses and technical personnel willing to work in Tier 2/3 cities and looking at non-traditional ways to double the number of physicians he added.

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Metropolis Healthcare Promoter and Managing Director Ameera Shah said the 2023-2024 Union budget should help drive innovation, R&D and healthcare spending as an investment in future human capital, which will set the pace to move the industry forward.

“Government should consider zero rate GST on healthcare services. It will ensure one is eligible for pre-tax credits, which can help reduce the cost of said services, and a refund of unused pre-tax credits should also be allowed to cover additional to provide working capital to players in the industry,” she added.

Narendra Varde, MD of Roche Diagnostics India, said India urgently needs to implement population screening programs under the Ayushman Bharat plan for the treatment of infectious diseases of HIV, Hepatitis and HPV.

Dheeraj Jain, founder and MD of Redcliffe Labs, said that the healthcare GST should be rationalized so that the companies in the sector can attract more investment and provide services to customers at affordable rates.

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