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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