Recognising the growing importance of the pharmaceutical sector and its education, the Modi government introduced the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha. The bill, introduced by Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister D V Sadananda Gowda on Monday, seeks to provide the tag of national importance to six Indian pharmaceutical education and research institutes that are in Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Hajipur, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Raebareli.
“A need is felt to bring clarity that the six institutes so established, as well as any other similar institute to be established under the said Act, shall be institutes of national importance,” reads the statement of objects and reasons regarding the bill.
The outbreak of Coronavirus disease provided an unprecedented opportunity to the already burgeoning Indian pharma sector. During the initial stages of the Covid crisis, Indian pharmaceutical giants fulfilled the demand for the drugs like Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), Lopinavir, Ritonavir, and Dexamethasone as their demand rose across the world in anticipation of possible Coronavirus disease cure.
Indian pharma companies, given their capacity to produce the generic drugs at competitive prices, became the manufacturing hub for Remdesivir, Favipiravir, Tocilizumab – the drugs Western scientists were using to treat the Covid-19 disease in the initial stages.
After that, India led the countries around the world in the development and production of the Coronavirus vaccine. This has not only enhanced India’s role on the global platform but also provided more acceptance for the Indian pharmaceutical companies in the markets around the world. India has built a very strong base for manufacturing pharmaceuticals, and given the enhanced reputation of its products around the world, the stage is set for aggressive expansion.
Like the last two decades have been defined by the rise of the Indian IT sector, it seems, the next decade is going to be of the pharmaceutical industry. The industry has never enjoyed such a favourable domestic and global environment and the pharmaceutical companies would definitely capitalise on this.
Currently, the industry has an annual revenue of around 1.3 lakh crore rupees or 33 billion United States dollars. The largest players are Dilip Shanghvi led Sun Pharmaceutical, Lupin Limited of Desh Bandhu Gupta, Dr Reddy laboratories of Reddy’s, Cipla, Aurobindo Pharma, Piramal Enterprise, Glenmark Pharmaceutical, Torrent, Biocon, and Serum Institute. Many Indian billionaires made their fortunes in the pharmaceutical sector, and it is arguably the largest sector in terms of the number of billionaires after the Information Technology-BPM sector.
India is one of the largest exporters of pharmaceuticals. The industry grew at double-digit in the last decade except for the last one or two years, when the growth slowed due to regulations put by the government and other disruptive reforms. The Indian pharmaceutical industry has the potential to replace IT as the largest export sector and contribute billions of dollars to India’s foreign exchange reserves every year.
Earlier, Bachelor of Engineering was considered very prestigious while Bachelor of Pharmacy was not a force to reckon with, as the majority of the people took them as someone being trained to work for retail drug shops. The job of a pharmacist is to work in labs to produce drugs is an idea completely alien to the imagination of the general populous.
However, with the growing opportunities in the sector and India’s expansive role in the global pharmaceutical market, a large number of trained professionals would be needed in the industry. And, the latest amendment, which seeks to give the title of national importance to 6 National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research and provides for the establishment of a central council, would help to produce quality professionals who would accelerate the flight of the Indian pharmaceutical industry.