Express Pharma

Bolstering Sikkim’s growth

Sikkim needs to re-strategise to develop newer capabilities and scale-up its growth to retain its position as a pharma hub

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For the last few years, Sikkim has proven itself as an investor-friendly destination, with many pharma companies setting up their shop there. Several major pharma companies such as Cipla, Sun Pharma, ZydusCadila, Alembic, IPCA, Alkem Lab, Intas Pharma, Torrent Pharma and Unichem, with their facilities in the state have been able to sustain themselves with fiscal incentives and industry-friendly policies like the ‘North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), 2007, giving a boost to the sector.
In a cost-competitive environment, when the pharma industry is thriving to grow and looking forward to a sustainable business model, pharma stakeholders are looking for avenues which can accelerate their growth. However, with the rapidly shifting paradigms of the global pharma industry, it is imperative to analyse the challenges that knock on the door of established pharma hubs. And Sikkim is no exception.

Located in the Himalayas, apart from the rough topography with frequent landslides and unpredictable weather, pharma companies in Sikkim are also facing challenges like getting the right talent, meeting regulatory compliances, etc. Developing cross-functional team culture, reskilling, building leadership strategies and tapping the right talent and adapting to new technologies are aspects which pharma companies should look at to sustain in this competitive environment.

Technology — a potential game-changer
Digital revolution is well underway and pharma companies are no exception. Sikkim-based pharma companies are having a tough time coping with the fast-growing digital evolution. While they are trying to adapt to the rapidly changing digital revolution, companies need to re-strategise their plans.
As Dr TK Rai, Deputy Drug Controller, HC HS & FW, Sikkim, points out, “In this era of technology, Sikkim is lagging. A lot needs to be done on the technology front and we need to work more efficiently and effectively to make the pharma sector climb newer heights.”

He further mentioned, “With the help of CDSCO, we can start an online registration process. Implementing e-Governance at CDSCO through SUGAM portal will bring in simplicity, transparency, reliability, accountability and also simplify conducting business.”

Dr Rai stressed on the need to start a WhatsApp group to counter CSR notifications, office orders, and make the communication process easier between pharma companies and government agencies. According to him, the WhatsApp group can be a convenient medium since Sikkim has many holidays, and easy communication can be had in case of urgency.

Adapting to newer technologies and assuring the quality compliance is something which pharma companies should look at sustain themselves in the long run. Dr Upendra Quenim, Vice President Operations – Swiss Garnier says, “Loss is always a concern. Sikkim has mountainous terrain and it a zero residual state. We have to revive and control losses by upgrading technology. Pharma companies with the right use of technology can reduce production cycling time and enable real-time release ”
According to Dr Quenim, software-based solutions like laboratory information management system, laboratory informatics system and stability information management systems can benefit the pharma industry while supporting modern laboratory operations.

Apart from adopting the right technology, companies also need to look at attracting the right talent. How can this be achieved?

Training and attracting the right talent

Tapping the right talent is always a challenge in a mountainous region. Proper training is crucial for employees working in a pharma facility. To meet FDA requirements, a company needs to develop a complete, detailed training programme that will lead to the successful training of all its employees. So what are regulators and pharma companies looking for?

Dr Quenim says, “Students in Sikkim are intelligent and complete their curriculum in a dedicated and steadfast manner. Challenge is to amalgam