“Welcome to the recognition of the need for a multi-stakeholder ecosystem for emerging sectors such as the pharmaceutical industry”
I would describe the Union budget 2022-2023 as a growth-oriented budget with infrastructure and digital as the main areas of action.
When it comes to infrastructure, the Prime Minister’s GatiShakti project aims to encompass all modes of logistics in tandem with sustainability, clean energy and social infrastructure, creating huge opportunities for livelihoods. From a long-term perspective, I would say that this project really has transformative potential. On the digital front, what stood out to me was that the Ministry of Finance not only considered promoting a digital economy and fintech, but also sought to harness the power of digital in skills, financial and social inclusion.
Furthermore, the budget recognized India’s privately-funded start-up ecosystem as one of the largest of its kind, and also recognizes its potential as an engine of growth. Overall, I would say the 2022-23 budget maintained continuity without major disruptions. For the pharmaceutical industry, although no specific measures or initiatives have been announced, we welcome the recognition of the need to build an enabling ecosystem with funding.
On the health front, as the Minister of Finance observed in her opening remarks, the current wave of Covid-19 is dominated by the Omicron variant. The vaccination campaign has been and continues to be the main priority of the country at present. I would cite two announcements as highlights for the health sector. The first is a continuation of the push towards digital – the deployment of the Ayushman Bharat digital mission. The announcement of the open digital platform consisting of digital health provider and health facility registries, a single health identity, a consent framework and universal access to health facilities is long awaited. Such an open platform puts patient convenience and access at the center of healthcare delivery.
The other extreme announcement was for the launch of the “National Tele-Mental Health Programme” – a network of 23 tele-mental health centres, with NIMHANS as the nodal center and the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore, providing technological support. This is a very welcome and progressive decision given the lack of open discussion and mental health support systems. NIMHANS has long been of great service in this area, and this is also recognition of its contribution to this critical area of healthcare.
From the perspective of the pharmaceutical sector, I am pleased to note the Finance Minister’s recognition of pharmaceuticals among the emerging sectors that have the potential to contribute to India’s sustainable development, modernization and competitiveness. As a pharmaceutical company, we see sustainability as a central pillar of business strategy, along with the need for innovation to address unmet patient needs.
The government proposes to adopt an approach composed of supportive policies, light regulations, facilitation of national capacities and promotion of research and development. For R&D in these emerging sectors, the Minister of Finance noted the need for collaboration between universities, industry and public institutions, as well as government contribution. The government also offers thematic funds for blended finance with a contribution of up to 20% and the funds being managed by private fund managers. These are conversations that the pharmaceutical industry has had with the government lately.
We welcome the recognition of the need for a multi-stakeholder ecosystem that enables and encourages R&D and innovation in the pharmaceutical sector. We look forward to going further and working closely with the government as we look to transition from ‘Make in India’ to ‘Discover and Make in India’.
The author is President, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd.
February 01, 2022