Telangana Minister of Industries and Commerce K. T. Rama Rao with Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan, NITI Aayog member (health) V. K. Paul and others during the inauguration of BioAsia 2023, in Hyderabad, Friday, Feb. 24, 2023. (PTI Photo)
HYDERABAD: The Indian pharma industry — also known as the world’s pharmacy — needs to focus on innovation to stay relevant, industry leaders opined at the CEO Conclave of BioAsia here on Friday.
Hari S. Bhartia, co-chairman and managing director of Jubilant Pharmova, said the Indian pharma industry could get a huge market if it could offer highly innovative drugs in India at a low cost.
"I think that will open up the market hugely. Every patient does not have access to highly innovative drugs because they are very expensive... as an Indian company, however, you can bring a follow-on drug in India."
Follow-on drug refers to a medication that is similar to a pre-existing drug, but is manufactured by making minor modifications to the prototype.
For this, however, Bhartia insisted that the pharma companies should be ready to make such drugs for the Indian market alone and not the US market.
"We need to discover drugs for India by conducting clinic trials on Indian patients. That way we can bring down the price of expensive innovative drugs to 120th or 150th in many cases. This, I would say, would offer a big opportunity for the Indian market," he said, and added that China had been focusing on discovering drugs for its local market.
Admitting to the fiscal constraints of governments in supporting innovation, minister K.T. Rama Rao said, "Instead of trying to boil the ocean, maybe we can identify only few areas — say oncology or cardiovasular problems — and grow at it fully as opposed to doing everything in one go. Maybe each state can asked to focus on one area. Each cluster can be asked to focus on one area. Then we can synergise and synthisise for India."
Concurring with his fellow panelists, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories chairman K. Satish Reddy said, "Unless we promote innovation, I think, we will be missing the bus. The research-linked scheme is coming soon. That’s a good start. But when it comes to creating the ecosystem, regulatory revamp and collaboration between academia and industry, a lot more needs to be done. It’s time for action, otherwise, we will miss the bus."