Lessons from Coronavirus pandemic: ASSOCHAM seeks faster time lines for bulk drugs/API mega parks, higher incentives on output

Friday, April 10, 2020

New Delhi, 10th April 2020:
  Lauding the recent Cabinet decision to earmark Rs 10,000 crore to ensure ''drug security'' for India to deal with pandemics like Covid-19 by promoting major bulk drug parks for manufacture of bulk drugs and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), the ASSOCHAM has impressed upon the Centre and states to advance the timeline for implementation of these strategic schemes and extend the incentives for longer period. 

In crucial decisions, the Union Cabinet, on March 21, 2020 had approved a scheme for promotion of bulk drug parks with common infrastructure facilities, including effluent treatment plants, with an outlay of Rs 3,000 crore. In another scheme for Production Linked Incentives to promote drug intermediaries and APIs, the Centre had committed close to Rs 7000 crore for incentivising the output and sale of bulk drugs, both for fermentation-based and chemical synthesis-based processes.   While the first scheme had to be implemented in five years, the other was given a tenure of eight years.
“These are timely decisions of strategic importance to the country even as the ongoing global pandemic has given us several lessons for making our country self-sufficient in pharmaceuticals and the entire health sector. On the one hand, India has established itself as a pharmacy of the world with about USD 20 billion exports, we had ceded the initial advantages to China in APIs because of different reasons, including environmental issues which made their domestic production un-viable. In the meanwhile, a lot has changed in technology regime for the manufacture of APIs. The Coronavirus crisis has made us realise our potential and the need for being self-sufficient in the entire value chain. In these circumstances, we would urge the government, both at the Centre and states to advance the time lines for completion of these schemes considerably to a maximum of three years, also extending the period for incentives to at least 10 years with increased outlay,'' said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr Deepak Sood.
He said, both these schemes be implemented in a mission mode with a perfect coordination between the Central ministries of Chemicals, Environment, Finance and the states where the mega drug parks have to be established. At the industry level, the pharma players would be responding fast to the national call as the helping hand is extended to ensure that new technologies for effluent treatment with common facilities, are adopted. The Central and state pollution control boards should be involved in the schemes right from concept to commissioning. 
According to official data, India meets its API imports largely from China, close to 70 per cent of the requirement, ''making us vulnerable from any disruption in supply chain''.
Mr Sood said in spirit of recommendations of the Expert Committee in the Department of Pharmaceuticals, industry would work continuously for adequate supply of API or KSM (Key Starting Material), leaving no effort spared.
ASSOCHAM initiated its endeavour of value creation for Indian industry in 1920. It was established by promoter Chambers, representing all regions of India. Having in its fold over 400 Chambers and Trade Associations, and serving over 4.5 lakh members across India. ASSOCHAM has emerged as the fountainhead of Knowledge for Indian industry, which is all set to redefine the dynamics of growth and development in the Knowledge Based Economy. More information available on www.assocham.org
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Manju Negi  
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