[op-ed snap] India and the future of life sciences innovation

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Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The newscard talks about a very important aspect of Indian Pharmaceutical Sector i.e. Medical Innovation


News

Status of Indian Pharmaceutical Sector

  1. The Indian pharmaceutical industry is a world leader in bringing generic drugs to the market in a cost-effective way
  2. Additionally, many Western pharmaceutical companies have established small-molecule development and manufacturing in India
  3. More recently, Indian pharma companies have demonstrated the capability to develop biosimilars for global healthcare markets
  4. These activities are highly valuable, providing essential and established medicines at more affordable prices to people around the world

The Future of India in Pharmaceutical Sector

  1. The future of India will go beyond generics and biosimilars
  2. There are many attractive features that the existing Indian ecosystem can offer the life sciences industry
  3. And India will eventually play a critical role in the advancement of innovative medicines

How is India a fertile ground for Medical Innovations?

  1. Sixty years ago, the total number of physicians in India was less than 50,000; today there has been a 16-fold increase to nearly 800,000 registered medical practitioners
  2. Public health centres, the foundation of rural healthcare in the country, have increased from less than 100 to more than 23,000
  3. This explosive growth is fertile ground for thought leaders, investors, regulators and medical centres to collaborate on developing
    (1) the capabilities to nurture the type of start-up environment that will focus on innovation and
    (2) better ways of healthcare delivery,
    with an eye on long-run rather than short-term profitability

What should be done to capitalize on these opportunities?

  1. There are a number of steps that India can take
  2. For example, incentives for start-up biotech firms, and commitment to rigorous global compliance standards that help increase trust in the Indian life sciences industry
  3. These trends are under way globally, but, in some respects, have yet to be initiated by experts with roots in India

The way forward

  1. The medical innovations don’t happen in isolation
  2. They emerge from collaborative networks
  3. Today, innovation occurs in a global village, not in a single country
  4. With so much to offer the life sciences, India is poised to become a dominant player
  5. The potential for this groundswell to materialize is happening today. It’s exciting to be a part of it
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.
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