The industry must continue to take strides towards innovation, by coming up with effective new drugs for unmet and emerging healthcare needs
The Indian pharma industry has witnessed some significant milestones over the past decades since Independence and has become one of the leading providers of medicines to the world population. At the same time, there have been several lessons and learnings for the sector. One of the key learnings, particularly during COVID-19, is for the industry to be self-reliant with respect to life-saving drugs. The Indian government’s support schemes for the pharma industry as part of its push to achieve an Atmanirbhar Bharat is a decision in the right direction. This will further encourage domestic manufacturing while ensuring an uninterrupted supply of medicines.
Digitisation has, in recent years, become another key driver for the industry, enabling better management of complexities in these uncertain times. We expect it to play a crucial role in driving agility across the pharma value chain by bringing the industry closer to doctors and patients. Lastly, the industry must continue to take strides towards innovation, by coming up with effective new drugs for unmet and emerging healthcare needs. Steps in this direction will help transform the Indian Pharma industry into a global innovation hub for the future.
A constant focus on research and innovation is vital since diseases in future will be different from the ones we know today
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to make the healthcare systems integrated, more robust and rapidly scalable. This will help quicken the turnaround time in case of a future crisis. Also, a constant focus on research and innovation is vital since diseases in the future will be quite different from the ones we know today. Tackling the pandemics of the future will require large scale infrastructure and rapid scalability in terms of manufacturing of critical drugs. India has a critical role to play as a reliable supplier of vaccines and therapeutics which are affordable to patients in India and across the world. We must continue to build on this strength.
Pharma industry needs to partner with key stakeholders, erasing traditional boundaries to chart out its next phase of growth
The Indian pharma industry has come a long way since its inception. The biggest lesson for the Indian pharma sector is the need to constantly innovate, collaborate and stay agile.
New ways of working, the rise of remote healthcare and virtual doctor-patient engagement, powered by digital technologies have transformed the pharma sector. To stay ahead in the innovation curve and manage future disruptions, pharma companies need to leverage digital technologies to deliver high-quality and hyper-personalized customer experiences, while also improving business performance and resilience.
The past 16 months have seen the power of collaboration across academia, industry and government, in addition to collaboration within the industry across the world to solve the unique challenges posed by the pandemic. The pharma industry needs to continue to partner with key stakeholders, erasing traditional boundaries to chart out its next phase of growth.
Going forward, agility will become critical for pharma companies. With compressed transformation, faster approvals by regulators and changing consumer preferences, pharma companies will need to leverage the power of data and analytics for decentralised and faster decision making. A micro-market approach by empowering a networked structure of local teams to make the best decisions at the point closest to customers and act with speed and agility is the way forward. The future of healthcare is digital and a purpose-driven, strategic approach for digital reinvention will decide winners from the laggards.
We now need to rethink traditional models of drug discovery and the regulatory framework
As we celebrate 75 years of independence, it is crucial to acknowledge the role the Indian Pharma industry has played in manufacturing quality medicines. Starting from fever medicines to advanced drugs like vaccines and biologics have been delivered by Indian scientists, developers and factory workers in unison. Indian CDMOs have truly differentiated themselves through their agility and responsible conduct in making life-saving COVID-19 vaccines and drugs affordable and accessible for people, not only for India but also for the whole world.
We now need to rethink the traditional models of drug discovery and the regulatory framework thereof to meet immediate and long-term challenges and capitalize on this momentum. The new world requires drug regulators, pharma companies, physicians and distribution channels to dramatically increase innovation velocity and capital efficiency while maintaining patient safety as a primary objective.
Pharma companies have learned to use data efficiently for differentiation of their products and capabilities
In 1947 at the time of independence, the Indian pharmaceutical industry was dominated by MNCs from the US and Europe controlling between 80 and 90 per cent of the market primarily through imports. Today Indian pharmaceutical sector supplies over 40 per cent of generic medicines to the US and 25 per cent of all medicine in the UK, also covering 50 per cent of global demand for various vaccines. Globally, India ranks third in terms of pharma production by volume and 14th by value.
The Indian companies have achieved this by understanding the healthcare stakeholders ie. Patients, Physicians, Providers, Policymakers. They have effectively worked with them to create awareness of disease and drugs, adoption of newer technologies and healthy lifestyle, accessibility to healthcare and essential medicines and most importantly made medicines affordable not only to the Indian population but to the world. They have achieved this by learning to use data efficiently for differentiation of their products and capabilities with effective dissemination of knowledge done diligently over decades.