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Pharma sector reacts to Union Budget 2021

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Adopting the paperless culture, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2021-22 which is considered as a well balanced budget. With a considerable focus on healthcare the government’s intention in driving the investment in advancements in biotechnology, smart medicines, virtual and augmented reality, AI & IoT in healthcare are likely to gain momentum. Although the Union Budget 2021-22 recorded higher budget allocation for COVID 19 vaccine, but the industry’s expectations of increased weighted deduction on R&D upto 200 percent were absent in the announcement. Therefore, the industry experts have expressed that if the government could have waived off some taxes on the input material, its result would have cheered by consumer (patient) directly as medicines would have become more affordable. Besides this, the industry is overwhelmed with the government’s recognition of the Health Sector as a First pillar amongst six pillars

‘Overall, a reassuring Budget with no negative surprises’- Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon

Overall, a reassuring budget with no negative surprises that has buoyed overall sentiment. Healthcare and well-being has received top priority in this budget, with more than doubling of the outlay to Rs 223,846 crore, including the allocation of Rs 35,400 crore towards COVID-19 vaccination and Rs 64,184 Cr for a new scheme to strengthen the country’s primary, secondary and tertiary health infrastructure.

Other positives include the higher spending on infrastructure, the push for bank privatisation, increased funding for strengthening the public sector R&D and innovation ecosystem, as well, as increasing the FDI cap in insurance from 49 per cent to 74 per cent. Monetisation of public sector assets including land is an important policy plan which must be implemented expeditiously to support the mega infra projects.

‘Healthcare allocation as percentage of GDP dismal; many good measures’
-Sharad Tyagi, President, OPPI

The Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) welcomes the Finance Minister’s proposal to increase the Budget outlay for healthcare marginally from last year’s revised estimates of Rs 69, 234 crore to Rs 71,269 crore. It is also a welcome step that Rs 35,000 crores is allocated for COVID-19 vaccine and the assurance that any additional spending required would be allocated for vaccines.

It has been the demand of the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors to increase the public spending on healthcare from the below one per cent of GDP level to at least 2.5 per cent of GDP. OPPI is glad to note the Rs 64,180 crore PM AtmaNirbharSwasth Bharat Yojana over six years to develop capacities of primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare systems, strengthen existing institutions, new institutions, and focus on detection and cure of new diseases.

OPPI also welcomes the support to rural and urban health and wellness centers, public health labs, strengthening the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC, connecting the Integrated Health Information Portal to public health labs, setting up new public health units at the borders and in the country, setting up emergency operation centers, bio-safety laboratories and regional virology centres.

OPPI also welcomes the proposal to amend the Insurance Act, 1938 to increase the permissible FDI limit in insurance sector from 49 per cent to 74 per cent to allow foreign ownership and control with safeguards. This would help global health insurance companies to have a focused interest in the country. However, it has been disappointing that the Finance Minister has not specifically laid out any modalities to improve bio-pharmaceutical research. OPPI hopes the five-year outlay of Rs 50,000 crores to strengthen the overall research ecosystem and to identify national-priority thrust areas would have a focused approach to improve bio-pharmaceutical research in the country.

‘A well-rounded holistic budget’ – Nikhil Chopra, CEO and Whole Time Director, JB Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals

“A well-rounded holistic budget that embraces all sectors through various measures to boost economic activity. Against the backdrop of the pandemic and an economy facing an unprecedented contraction, the Finance Minister has met the challenge face-on with a budget that has a long term vision laid out in a strategic road map.  The emphasis on an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ with an increase in capital expenditure will boost investment in infrastructure and fuel economic growth.

The significant increase in allocation for health and well-being augurs well for the nation and can be a driving force and strong foundation for accelerating essential drugs and health-related consciousness to the last mile of Indians. The allocation of funds for COVID-19 vaccination will fast track the inoculation drive and it is worth lauding the Government’s commitment to provide further funds if deemed necessary.

The budget addresses the gaps in rural and urban healthcare that the pandemic exposed with the ‘PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana’ in addition to the National Health Mission. Along with the emphasis on nutrition, clean water, and clean environment, this will bolster health infrastructure and reach across India. The pharma industry is ready to contribute towards fortifying the health of the nation that is the cornerstone of development. JBCPL stands by the nation!

‘We are encouraged with Government’s renewed focus on preventive and curative health’– Rehan A Khan, Managing Director- India Region, MSD

“We welcome the much-deserved attention on India’s healthcare sector in the Union Budget 2021, and  are glad to hear the increase in the total budget outlay for healthcare in this year. We are encouraged with the Government’s renewed focus on preventive and curative health as well as the overall wellness and well-being of our citizens .The introduction of the Aatmanirbhar Health Yojana in addition to the National health Mission,  along with other  announcements in the healthcare and pharma sector- such as setting up health and wellness centres, integrated public health labs in each district, – are aimed at widening access to health and wellness while driving focus on preventive health. These patient centered initiatives will play a pivotal role in the success of the National Health Mission.

Healthcare in India is at the cusp of transformation. The advancements in biotechnology, smart medicines, virtual and augmented reality, AI & IoT in healthcare are likely to gain momentum. This calls for a patient-focused healthcare ecosystem wherein community health, mental health and other such critical areas are properly represented.  The Government’s focus on self-reliance, especially with the attention on scaling production capabilities of vaccines and other medicines,  demonstrates its commitment to build a healthy India. While 2020 has accelerated the foundation for a digital transformation and innovation of the healthcare system, 2021 will support in further widening access and increasing digital inclusion in the remotest corners of the country.

Having said this, there is a need to further bolster the research and innovation ecosystem in the country in order to ensure that Indian patients receive new treatments and cures. An increased collaboration between stakeholders from industry, academia, governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), regulators and patients’ organisations is essential to promote a robust research framework which recognises and rewards innovation.”

‘It is a far-reaching budget announcement’ – Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Biotech

“It’s a great step ahead, and far-reaching budget announcement, providing ₹35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccination in 2021-22. The Finance Minister commitment providing more funds in order to contain the Coronavirus pandemic spread in the country and provide an effective, smooth path for the vaccination scheme will help contain, and lead our nation towards accomplishing a covid-19 disease free Bharat.

The lay out plan of a ₹64,180 crore spending plan for healthcare over the next six years to be spent on primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare, in addition to the National Health Mission is also a welcome move, which will strengthen public health services as 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres and integrated public health labs to be set up in each district. The government focus, on three areas –  preventive health, curative health and well-being, is also very reassuring.

Suchitra Ella, Joint Managing Director, Bharat Biotech

The new health infra schemes with significantly higher outlay of Rs 35,000 crore for Bharat’s mega COVID-19 vaccination drive is a huge fiscal medicine to contain the pandemic, reduce disease burden for the population, and the economy. A record total outlay of Rs 2,23,846 crore for health and wellbeing aimed to boost the health and well-being of the nation, is also a well-thought announcement in this budget, with focus on preventive, and curative health. It’s encouraging to note the creation of 9 Bio Safety Lab (BSL) in the Budget, that will boost research and scientific discoveries.

‘PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojna will boost healthcare infrastructure across primary, secondary and tertiary care’– Sudarshan Jain, Secretary General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance

The FY22 Budget is in line to support recovery of Indian economy while keeping the overall policy stability and fiscal discipline in perspective. The COVID 19 pandemic is an unprecedented time and has brought importance to healthcare in India. The focus on healthcare infrastructure in FY22 Budget is a positive step towards growth with a 137 per cent increase in allocation to the sector at Rs 2,23,846 crore. The allocation of Rs 64k Cr (over 6 years) on the PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojna will help boost the healthcare infrastructure across primary, secondary and tertiary care and the Vaccination programme is well-funded with over Rs 35k, it will help the country address the pandemic. All these initiatives are pointers to increased investment in healthcare infrastructure and will strengthen the sector going forward.

‘Union Budget 2021 is positive for Healthcare Industry’- S V Veerramani, Past National President – IDMA & Chairman and Managing Director, Fourrts India Laboratories

The announcement of Rs 64000 Cr for Atmanirbhar Health scheme is a welcome.  As per the Finance Minister, the healthcare infrastructure fund will also be increased from Rs 94,000 crores to Rs 2,23,846 crores.  Besides this, the already announced PLI scheme by the Government together with the proposed funding for COVID-19  vaccine and Pneumococcal vaccine augurs well for the healthcare industry in general.

Our expectations of increased weighted deduction on R&D upto 200 percent is absent in the announcement.

‘A big gift to healthcare sector‘-  B R Sikri, Vice President, BDMA and Chairman FOPE

We welcome step of the Government for presenting Budget through Digital route i.e. paperless budget. Finance Minister presented her budget speech in six pillars and we are grateful to her as health sector was taken as the First pillar.

Scientific efforts to produce two domestic vaccines for COVID not only for India rather than to supply to 100 countries are remarkable achievements. Rs 35000 crores allocated for vaccination of COVID is a welcome step by the Government of India. Due to serious health sector efforts during COVID, minimum deaths have taken place in India when compared with other countries seeing size of the population. Seriousness on the part of the Government towards the health sector itself proves because the government has increased the health budget from ₹94 thousand crores to 2.23 Lakh Crores. As an Industry, we appreciate this great initiative taken by the Finance Minister in the Union Budget.

Particularly, from the pharmaceutical industry’s point of view, we were hoping that the government will come forward to give some special relief for R&D and rationality of import duty was also expected. Similarly if the government has waived off some taxes on the input material, it would have given not only relief to the pharma industry rather to the consumers too because the medicines would have become more affordable for a common man.

‘This is one of the most challenging budget’- Vivek Padgaonkar, Independent Healthcare Consultant Former-Director OPPI ( Project and Policy),  Former GSK (Sales and Marketing)

Global  economy is in a very difficult phase in the last fifty years and India can be no exception to this so perhaps this is one of the most challenging budget for our Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

At the back drop of shrinkage of the economy by 24 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, due to global pandemic, the Union Budget proposal 2021-22 rests on six different pillars. The inclusion of  Health and wellbeing, innovation and R&D, and the budget allocation increased by 137 per cent over the previous year, will have a significant contribution for the Indian life science sector.

The ‘PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana‘ which will be launched with a total outlay of Rs 64,180 crore over a period of next six years, with a focus on developing capacities of healthcare systems, develop institutions for detection and cure of new and emerging diseases will boost Indian pharma industry.

‘This year’s budget is pragmatic, positive and committed to the healthcare sector’–  Harshit Jain MD , CEO and Founder, Doceree

This year’s budget by the Finance Minister is pragmatic, positive and committed to the healthcare sector which needed a deliberate boost post unprecedented virus outbreak last year. The announcement of centrally funded scheme – Aatmanirbhar Health Yojana – with an outlay of Rs 64,180 crore over six years in addition to National Health Mission is a welcome step towards strengthening primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare in the country.

Setting up of 15 Health Emergency Centres shows the government’s intent to be future-ready to address any healthca