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‘We need to relook at our IPR laws’

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The Modi Government should focus on three As of healthcare delivery viz. Availability, Affordability and Access. To achieve this, the first priority is to increase our spend on healthcare from current just about one per cent of GDP to at least four per cent. To generate funds and in keeping with Modiji’s mantra of ‘maximum governance and minimum government’ all sick pharma PSUs should be privatised. Since we are a resource starved country, these funds should be deployed to promote preventive healthcare such as vaccination, immunisation, clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, cessation of bad habits like tobacco smoking, pollution control, safe sex habits such as wearing condoms etc.

Government should also form a task force to study the NHS model of UK, the largest publicly funded healthcare programme in the world. Also, it is worth studying the Affordable Healthcare Act of US (Obamacare) and learn from its pitfalls. Today, more than 80 per cent of the Indian population pays from its own pocket for healthcare. It is therefore important to expand the scope of health insurance by allowing 49 per cent FDI (or even more) in this sector.

On the regulatory front, CDSCO needs to be restructured . Today , although the Drugs Act is central in nature, the degree of its enforcement varies from state to state giving rise to issues related to GMP non compliance, counterfeit drugs , irrational FDCs etc . The recommendation made by Dr Mashelkar Committee several years ago and approved by the then cabinet to form Central Drug Authority on the lines of US FDA should be implemented forthwith. CRO sector today is struggling for survival due to ambiguous and impractical guidelines which need to be harmonised with global standards. The Biotechnology Regulatory Bill should be tabled forthwith to spur investment in this emerging sector.

CDSCO should also come out with well defined guidelines for OTC drugs, as ‘Responsible Self Medication’ is an integral part of modern healthcare system. Many minor ailments like headache, cough and cold, fever, diarrhea, skin infections, body pain etc. can be cured by self medication using OTC drugs.

We also need to relook at our IPR laws to protect the intellectual property of our own scientists and to foster innovation.

And finally, no government has talked so far about population control. With a burgeoning population of 1.25 billion , India’ s healthcare indicators will always remain under pressure. Policy makers should come out with innovative methods like tax incentives , social subsidies, free education etc. to check population growth.

Dr Ajit Dangi, President and CEO, Danssen Consulting

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