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Challenges and opportunities for Indian pharma industry

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Dr Swarnlata Saraf, Professor – Pharmaceutics, University Institute of Pharmacy, and Dean, Faculty of Technology, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur, Chhattisgarh elaborates on the need to create a pool skilled workforce, ramp up research and build better industry-academia synergies to optimise the growth potential in India’s pharma industry

As we all know, India is the largest provider of generic drugs globally. The Indian pharma industry supplies over half of the global demand for vaccines, one third of the demand for generics in the US and one fourth per cent of all medicines in the UK. The nation enjoys an important position in the global pharma sector. Therefore, the future of Indian pharma industry is quite bright, but there are a few dark clouds on the horizon as well. Let’s examine them.

Challenges

  • The Indian pharma industry faces lack of research components and real time good manufacturing practices. This has always been a difficulty for the pharma industry. Pharma companies should built in such a way that they are equipped with better operational facilities and abilities.
  • Indian pharma companies are not getting proper profits, their earnings are basically very low as compared to their counterparts in other countries such as the US. Their income is not sufficient enough to invest money on research component.
  • The pharma industry is dependent on China for the supply of raw material for generic medicines production.
  • India needs user friendly government policy for the common man to establish small scale, raw material manufacturing units/ incubators in all states of the country to improve availability of raw materials to manufacture generic drugs at affordable rates.
  • The government and industry should facilitate the pharmacist community to become entrepreneurs and promote incubators’ establishment.
  • Raw material produced from small scale units should be properly validated in the testing laboratory of the state to ascertain their quality specifications.
  • There is a need for a functional testing laboratory in every state to fasten the work of specification of raw materials.
  • Small scale produces may be re-processed in another industry or via a chain of industry for quality products that can be used for parenteral/tailor-made formulations.
  • Skilled manpower from academic institutions can be achieved through continuing education programmes.

Opportunities

  • Research schemes should be initiated by the industry via direct contact with identified researcher/faculty.
  • Incentives should be paid to students contributing towards development of any research formula for the industry.
  • Industry should explore the availability of qualified students beyond metro cities.
  • Every industry has its own protocol to serve the society. Therefore, the pharma industry should train students as per their need. Only a few industries are thinking in this line. Industries should contact Indian academic institutions to get qualified students who have the knowledge and aptitude for research and development in pharma.
  • Adoption of user-friendly policies will help establish small scale industry and encourage students and middle class business owners with ambitions in this line. This will also help overcome the problem of unemployment for pharmacists and promote entrepreneurship in the nation.
  • With changing times, students are getting exposure through internet about research/ technology around them.
  • Indian academic institutions are full of ideas born from the young, creative brains of students.
  • Indian pharma industry can explore these ideas for future progress.
  • There are ample opportunities for industries to represent their data via academic pharma institutions.
  • Pharmacy students are highly qualified persons in handling of instruments with having good knowledge of data interpretation and data mining. The important part is that there is no significance of instrumental data without interpretation. Therefore, such knowledge of students can be explored by the industry at the cost of living wedges.

The industry can hire a team from academic institutions to participate in healthcare activities across the country for their promotional activities.
Industry can get support from academic institutions to serve the society in healthcare activities. They can provide financial expenses done by the institutions. It should be a routine activity that will connect the students to the industry.

The way forward
Looking at the urgent need of the nation for quality healthcare, the pharma industry has to develop strategies for raw material producing units with user friendly government policy for the small scale industry. The industry will have to identify researchers/teaching faculty beyond metro cities to get good ideas and skilled workers from across the country.

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