Package To Encourage Drug Discovery & Develop Medical Devices Likely

In a bid to give a fillip to the pharmaceutical sector and to encourage the manufacturing of drugs and medical devices in the country, the government is working on a comprehensive pharmaceutical package, parts of which could feature in the upcoming Budget 20-21.

According to government officials, some of the measures include, creation of a research council, pharma bureau and dedicated manufacturing parks for bulk drugs and medical devices.

“Government is mulling on measures to encourage drug discovery and research and development in medical devices. The idea is to encourage domestic and foreign investors to work on affordable drugs and medical devices. Some of these measures are likely to be an integral part of the upcoming budget,” an official said.

It is also understood that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to review the performance of the sector and hear suggestions on the future five-year plan for the development of the pharma sector in India on January 17, post which a few of the suggestions are also likely to be included in Budget 20-21.

Apart from this, the pharma department is also working on having a GST Council like Research Council, which will help coordinate research of medical devices and drugs by various departments.

“Currently, a lot of research happens in this sector but it is done independently by a lot of different departments and ministries, with the creation of this research council, the idea is to get all these stakeholders on one platform for better convergence of ideas and dedicated brainstorming can be done towards drug discovery and innovation,” the official added.

The proposal of the research council is almost at a final stage and is likely to be headed by the pharma department with stakeholding members. This could include senior officials from the department of science and technology, biotechnology, health, and family welfare, etc.

Another area, which the government is planning to address soon, is the dependence on critical Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API), a bulk of which gets imported from China to meet Indian requirements.

API is an essential part of any drug that produces the intended effects. Drug innovation is aimed at reducing this dependence on China, which will also help in curbing India’s trade deficit with China.

The Budget is also likely to announce the creation of dedicated 5-6 parks for medical devices and bulk drug manufacturing spread across India, the official added.

“There is a proposal to have dedicated parks for both drug innovation and bulk drug manufacturing and for further development in the manufacturing of medical devices. The pharma department is in talks with states for these parks where basic infrastructure will be provided by the central government through central government assistance, an announcement expected in the upcoming budget,” the official said.

Meanwhile, for having better ease of doing business for both foreign and domestic investors in the sector, the pharma department is of a view to having a Pharma Bureau.

“This Bureau will be a single-point interface for handholding of pharma investors and stakeholders, to provide them all statutory clearances within a stipulated time frame,” the official said.

The pharma department is also in talks with the finance ministry for the expansion of tax incentives for the sector, especially for research and development.

According to the official, the talks are for seeking tax incentives for Research and development, to extend 200 percent tax relief for R&D. Currently, the government gives a 150 percent tax incentive for R&D, which expires on March 31, 2020, and gets reduced to 100 percent for FY 21-22.-CNBC Tv18

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