‘The need of the hour is to change the mind-set of professionals’
You have been elected as the President of IPA at a time when the association is celebrating its platinum jubilee year. How challenging will your role be?
Rao VSV Vadlamudi
Firstly, I am very fortunate to get elected as the President of the Association when it is in its 75th year. The role is indeed very challenging since all members and pharma professionals are eagerly waiting to see what is likely to unfold during the platinum jubilee year. There are various challenges, both internally as well as externally. Internally, we need to put in place best practices for proper governance while externally, we need to be more visible through our five divisions, the industrial pharmacy, the regulatory affairs, the community pharmacy, the hospital pharmacy and the education. This is a mammoth task, however, I am highly confident that with the new committed and vibrant team in place, we will be able to accomplish our objectives.
What is your agenda and how do you plan to accomplish it?
We do have an agenda, which was developed in discussion with the new team of office bearers. The agenda briefly touches on the following major issues:
- To activate all IPA state and local branches through activities planned during the platinum jubilee year with the support from IPA Centre to impart a sense of belonging to all members and to enroll more members.
- IPA secretariat to ensure smooth and rapid communication with all branches and members by making IPA website dynamic and interactive.
- To ensure that all divisions of IPA become active during the platinum jubilee and to further promote activities of the highly active divisions like community pharmacy to different parts of the country.
- To define and promote the role of pharmacy graduates with diploma, bachelors, masters and Pharm. D. degrees in National Health Care programmes and work towards creation of employment opportunities for pharmacy fresh graduates.
- To develop ‘Focus Groups’ in IPA to strengthen the role of IPA in various platforms at national and international level.
- To represent in governmental bodies and committees to play a pivotal role in developing regulatory policies for the pharmacy profession on all fronts, Industry, education, regulatory and pharmacy practice
- To create a highly active publication platform to efficiently manage IPA publications such as Pharma Times, Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, IPA-CPD e-Times and Panache live to create an international image for IPA and enhance readership.
- To ensure that IPA is a preferred partner for all professional organisations within the country and outside to organise professional activities.
In the last few years, it has been observed that the visibility of pharma institutions and companies’ associations have faded. What is your say on this? What will be your immediate actions?
There has been a phenomenal increase in the number of pharmacy institutions as well as in the number of students graduating each year, without a concomitant increase in the standard of curriculum and its delivery. The need of the hour is to prepare students of tomorrow who can meet the challenges faced by the country in terms of providing better healthcare. There is a need to categorise our pharmacy institutions in such a way that some provide better employable resources to pharma industry, while others to pharmacy research and teaching, pharmacy practice and so on. The advantage of such grouping would be that interaction between the industry and possible other employers and institutions can be enhanced in a structured way. IPA education division will look in to this direction. A part of this strategy would be to involve industry experts to design training programmes for students and to have regular interaction with the Industry.
Since 2013, the pharma industry is observing various changes/reforms, which have impacted it negatively. What reforms would you like to put forward to the Ministry and why?
Of late, scrutiny by global regulators in their routine inspection of facilities has reached to such a level that several quality issues are repeatedly surfacing. This calls for creating an atmosphere in which constant interaction between the regulator and the manufacturer is to be fostered to create faith and commitment to quality. IPA has been in continuous dialogue with regulatory bodies to create such an environment. Discussions are in final stages with UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for initiating training and development, which focus on important areas of interest to industry. IPA already has good relations with European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines (EDQM) and regularly organises training programmes every year. The need of the hour is to change the mind-set of professionals and to create a culture of quality in every aspect of operations. When that is achieved India will certainly maintain its prime position in global market.
According to you, what are the top five issues which are hampering the growth of pharma industry in India and who are actually responsible for it?
- Affordability and patient-centric focus
- Improvement in governance and regulatory mechanisms
- Lack of resources to go all out for innovation
- Less budget allocation for research and healthcare sector
- Availability of skilled manpower
It is very difficult to pinpoint who are responsible for the lack of growth, or better to state slow-down of growth. All stakeholders are collectively responsible and it is difficult to point fingers at some one. For example, government policy makers and regulators’ ability to visualise our country’s healthcare scenario, pharma manufacturers and their quality mind-set, pharma professionals and their willingness to learn and change, pharma educators and their knowledge of current global requirements, professional organisations and their efforts to bring about a change in all stakeholders, graduating pharmacy students and their motivation and drive to learn and lead, are all in one way or other responsible for the current situation that we are in.
In 2015, Indian Pharmaceutical Association Student Forum (IPASF) will host the International Pharmaceutical Student Federation in India. How will this event help to encourage Indian students in enhancing their capabilities, knowledge and reward them in the long term?
International Pharmaceutical Student Federation (IPSF), though has been in existence since the last 60 years, was not very popular among Indian students all these years. Indian pharmacy students under the mentorship of IPA Education division established the IPA-Students Forum (IPA-SF) about five years ago and became a member of IPSF. In these five years, IPA-SF made a huge impact; firstly they won the ‘Best Student Forum in the World’ award last year and successfully bid for the 61st IPSF World Congress 2015 to be held first time in India, indicating the recognition by global community of students. Through the association with IPSF and participating in the world congress, the Indian pharmacy students will gain skill sets such as strong networking, understanding global scenarios, opportunities for career enhancement, leadership training and development of organisational skills. They will also understand the importance of having a constitution, value of strong internal democracy and planned way in which organisations can run. All these would help our students build a very strong IPA-SF. Participation in the world congress would help students learn how to voice their opinion to the right people to get the much-required exposure. Through this world congress our country and our culture would get better exposure leading to a stronger relationship between IPSF and IPA-SF, which would open doors for our students to WHO and UN through IPSF.
How is the pharma industry’s slated to grow in next five years?
Clinical sector will come back to limelight with establishment of strong regulatory standards meeting global norms; more and more consolidation will be seen in pharma sector creating a chance for contract research to grow. India will take a strong leadership position among emerging countries. The focus will shift to protein therapeutics and biosimilars. innovative research will be more oriented towards niche areas of unmet medical needs and orphan diseases.
Tell us about your mission and vision for uplifting the Indian pharma industry.
IPA mission statement is as follows “The Indian Pharmaceutical Association is the national body of pharmacy professionals engaged in various facets of the profession of pharmacy. IPA is committed to promote the highest professional and ethical standards of pharmacy, project the image of pharmacist as a competent healthcare professional, sensitise the community and government and others on vital professional issues and support pharma education and sciences in all aspects.”
From the mission statement it is very clear that IPA has a very broad agenda, of which industry is an integral part. IPA would like to make all efforts to bring about a cultural change in the industry that would promote quality awareness in every aspect and develop a patient-centric focus. IPA would like to work towards developing the future pharmacists fully equipped with knowledge about current and future requirements through constant interactions with all stakeholders. IPA envisages its role in the development of community and hospital pharmacists, which would play a major role in creating a better health care system in our country.