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High expectations from OPPI at 50th AGM

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BJP spokesperson, Mumbai’s top cop, urge OPPI to do more on access, anti counterfeiting measures

Viveka Roychowdhury – Mumbai

OPPI recently held its 50th AGM held in Mumbai. It focussed on the theme ‘Healthy India, Innovative India’. Introducing the theme, Kangana TK, Director General, OPPI gave the welcome address. It was followed by a presentation by Shailesh Ayyangar, who was re-elected as OPPI President. He spoke about his vision for a healthy India and urged the attendees to “make the impossible possible.”

Speaking at the event, Meenakshi Lekhi, National Spokesperson for BJP and Member of Parliament, paraphrased a song by ABBA and said that she believes in angels and the pharma industry has the capacity to be an angel.

Sudhansh Pant, Joint Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals, in his address, urged OPPI to do more on social causes like health access. Referring to Ayyangar’s vision for a disease free India in 2026, he pointed out that the Prime Minister was planning to achieve this vision by 2021. He said that this is the time for the industry to capitalise on factors like regulatory changes in clinical trials process, support to make more in India, present investment climate, and policymakers’ current interest to address and resolve issues. He said, “Not just in the cities, but also across the country, we have to ensure accessibility and affordability.”

He mentioned that the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi scheme is trying to achieve this goal and urged OPPI members to put interested companies in touch with the concerned officials to encourage meaningful collaborations.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, he revealed that the previously announced venture capital fund for the pharma industry was in the final stages of approval and would be released soon. The total amount would Rs 500 crores, which would be managed by a professional fund manager, appointed through a selection process.

Pant also revealed that the marketing code for pharma products was in the final stages of drafting and will be released soon, with some significant changes to the initial draft. The industry, in turn, urged the government to make it statutory.

In a video address, Mike Warmuth, Executive Vice President, Abbott spoke about achievements of the global pharma and medical devices sector. He also spoke about the increasing demands of consumers. On emerging markets, he pointed out how the impact of healthcare systems affected a lot of other indicators and how spends are increasing. As the population ages, leading to shifting disease profiles in emerging economies, Abbott India has had to address these needs as well.

A commemorative book titled Color of White was also released at the event. It profiles women leaders from different segments of the pharma industry in India and celebrates gender diversity in the sector.

Dr Swati Piramal, who gave the foreword for the book, in a video address explained how women represent the color white for their inclusiveness.

Radha Kapoor, ISDI spoke on how design innovations like an isobar refrigerator could make a huge difference to healthcare.

Lekhi presented the OPPI Excellence Awards to scientists, vendors, sales force Excellence Awards as well as Dr H R Nanji Memorial Marketing Awards.

Speaking on the need for uncompromising patient safety, AN Roy, former director General of Police, Maharashtra and Commissioner of Police, Mumbai and Independent Director, GlaxoSmithKline spoke on the incidence of spurious drugs. While pharma leaders are concerned about the loss of business due to spurious drugs, his primary concern was the impact on the life of people . He pointed out that when such incidents are detected, there is a delay in the law enforcement due to lack of clear guidelines. He therefore suggested that OPPI should take the lead and start a cell to create a template for law enforcement agencies to deal with spurious drugs because the system and processes are not in a place and in the short time available, the violators manage to escape.

In a humorous vein, Ravindra Chavan, Minister of State, Government of Maharashtra, who holds multiple portfolios including medical education, asked OPPI to organise a handwriting competition for doctors, which had the audience in splits. He also asked OPPI to start a helpline advising patients on the proper use of medicines.

Another highlight of the event was the launch of a study by IIM Ahmedabad, titled ‘Development of Health Index of Indian States’. The authors of the study explained how the index was based on an outcome-input matrix. It highlights which states have made the most efficient use of inputs. Maharashtra made it to the top spot on the outcome-input matrix followed by Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal.

Veterans who have made significant contributions to the life sciences sector were also recognised at the event. Dr RA Mashelkar received the OPPI Lifetime Achievement Award while Manish Gupta, Founder, Indegene received an award for innovation in healthcare. The event concluded with an inspiring address from Mashelkar as he traced the milestones in his career and the changes in the industry.

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