Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Adieu 'Annus Horribilis'

2013 was probably one of the worst years for the Indian economy, with inflation running unbridled and economic growth grinding down to a level below 5 per cent.

Unfortunately, the pharma sector also witnessed an unprecedented slowdown growing at a single digit in 2013 against an average growth of 12 per cent the previous year. The negative impact was further compounded with adverse policy decisions with respect to pricing, FDI, clinical trials and compulsory licensing in India. An overactive USFDA issuing notices to some of the leading Indian pharma companies tarnished the sector’s image. All this made 2013 an ‘Annus Horribilis’ for Indian pharma.

The year 2014 is expected to lead to a stable majority Government at the Centre. Hopefully, this will be a starting point for some of the challenges to be addressed through bold policy reforms.

We hope that the new Government will be able to maneouvre the winds of change and create real jobs, provide good infrastructure for industrial growth, ensure safety and security for women and promote better governance.

We will need innovative solutions to address these numerous challenges and emerge as a robust economy.

Affordable Innovation

Healthcare for all is a critical need which can only be addressed through access to affordable medicines. The Government needs to enable affordable innovation by defining a smarter regulatory pathway that cuts the cost of drug development. Regulatory reforms that address issues related to Intellectual Property and clinical development coupled with use of technology for procurement will enable better access to drugs.

The Indian pharma sector also needs to take corrective action to address non-compliance issues to regain the reputation of a provider of good quality affordable generics for the patients and healthcare systems across the globe.

For Biocon, 2014 holds good promise as we bring world’s first biosimilar Trastuzumab to cancer patients in India, our novel biologic Alzumab makes a positive impact on the lives of several patients, our Malaysia plant nears completion and all our business verticals continue to report a robust growth.

(This article originally appeared in the 01 January 2014 edition of The Hindu BusinessLine and can be accessed here.)

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