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  4. Pharmaceuticals seeks enhanced funds for healthcare sector, ease of doing business in Union Budget

Pharmaceuticals seeks enhanced funds for healthcare sector, ease of doing business in Union Budget

"The industry saw significant momentum over the past year, especially in ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccines and medicines and this year's Budget will be crucial to accelerate sectoral growth and access to innovative health solutions across various diseases and not COVID alone", said S Sridhar,President of Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India

India TV News Desk Edited by: India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: January 28, 2022 19:55 IST
The industry is also seeking simplification of various
Image Source : PTI

The industry is also seeking simplification of various processes in order to enhance ease of doing business for the private sector companies

Highlights

  • According to Association of Indian Medical Device Industry, 95% of its members are MSMEs
  • The industry wants government to give due attention to the medical device accessories
  • Need of the hour is to allocate funds, introduce targeted skilling & medical educational programmes

The domestic pharmaceutical industry is expecting an increase in the overall fund allocation for the healthcare sector, focus on policies that encourage R&D activities and continuation of tax concessions on various drugs in the upcoming Union Budget. The industry is also seeking simplification of various processes in order to enhance ease of doing business for the private sector companies.

"An increase in the budgetary allocation from the current 1.8 per cent of the GDP to 2.5-3 per cent, as envisaged in the National Health Policy 2017 along with a separate allocation for the bio-pharmaceutical sector R&D is imperative," Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) President S Sridhar told PTI.

The industry saw significant momentum over the past year, especially in ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccines and medicines and this year's Budget will be crucial to accelerate sectoral growth and access to innovative health solutions across various diseases and not COVID alone, he added.

 
Sridhar noted that the government should continue with the existing Customs duty concessions for medicines as any discontinuation thereof in the current scenario will impact the accessibility of such medicines at affordable price. Import duty exemptions for rare diseases innovator drugs developed globally, as proposed by the NPRD should also be taken into consideration, he added.

Ashok Patel, Founder & CEO, Max Ventilator, said that the medtech industry expects hope that the upcoming budget would increase the number of medical device parks which have been announced to be incentivized with a grant-in-aid of a maximum Rs 100 crore per park by the government. Under this, common infrastructure including testing and laboratory facilities would be provided to four medical device parks proposed by state governments. 

"The government should expand both the ambit and allocation vis-à-vis the hitherto announced and currently existing schemes such as the Performance Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes and special provisions formedical device parks. So far until the end of 2021, twenty-one companies in total have been approved under the PLI scheme with an aggregate investment commitment of nearly Rs 1060 crore.  However, the high threshold criterion of achieving minimum incremental sales of Rs 60 crore in the first, 120 crore in the second and 180 crore in the third year is hugely deterring for small players," he said.

According to Association of Indian Medical Device Industry, 95% of its members are MSMEs. The budget needs to address this gap and afford smaller players greater policy space for participation.  At the same time, the industry would also wish that the budget would include more medical device categories under the scheme, he said.

Also Read | Union Budget to be presented on February 1 at 11 am: Sources

The industry also wants government to give due attention to the consumables and medical device accessories. "The budget should to provide sufficient impetus to consumables and disposables as well as medical device accessories, segments which are brimming with promise," he said.

Besides, the government should provide sufficient funds for training and upskilling of personnel involved in running critical care and lifesaving devices and equipment such as ventilators. Importantly, it has been earlier reported in the media how ventilators were lying unused in many places merely because of shortage of trained healthcare attendants who could use and run ventilators skillfully. 

"The medical device sector would also expect the budget to provide greater protection to their intellectual property rights by way of simplification of legal systems," Patel added.

Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) Secretary General Sudarshan Jain said that additional measures towards improving ease of doing business in the pharma sector with emphasis on simplification and making the process industry friendly, with specific provisions for eliminating bottlenecks will encourage investment, thus, contributing to the long-term growth of the industry, adding that for the knowledge-driven pharmaceutical industry, innovation and R&D is critical.

"This will help in meeting unmet patient needs in an affordable manner. We are looking forward to the budget that will help in fuelling innovation and advancing the Indian pharmaceutical industry from Make in India to Discover and Make in India," he added.

Healthcare industry body NATHEALTH stated that in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to create and build infrastructural and linked integrated capabilities like telemedicine,  home and senior care so that people can access quality and critical healthcare services equitably.

"The pandemic has made us realise the need of providing hospitals in tier 2 and 3 towns with adequate infrastructure such as diagnostic centers, oxygen beds, ICUs  and oxygen plants through increased budget outlay and greater investments.
This will also help in creating employment opportunities and increase health system resilience," NATHEALTH President Harsh Mahajan said.

The need of the hour is to allocate funds and introduce targeted skilling and  medical education programmes which can address the shortage of skilled healthcare manpower in the nation, he added.

"The sector has not been able to derive the benefits of the GST transition. In fact, the embedded taxes in the sector have increased in the post-GST regime compared to pre-GST scenarios. Therefore, it is vital to rationalize GST to unlock the embedded credit which is trapped in the healthcare value chain," Mahajan said.

The Union Budget 2022 will be presented on February 1 by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Also Read | What healthcare sector expects from Union Budget 2022

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