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.
"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," Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) Secretary General Sudarshan Jain said 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.