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India should create pharmaceutical ministry

Minister Sujan Chakraborty of the Communist Party of India has suggested the creation of a separate department or ministry for the pharmaceutical sector.

Minister Sujan Chakraborty of the Communist Party of India has suggested the creation of a separate department or ministry for the pharmaceutical sector.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chakraborty identified that the prices of pharmaceutical products manufactured in the country were attractive to the international market and the Third World. He added that there was scope for greater cooperation between India and other developing countries.

In the letter, Chakraborty said that the national common minimum programme of the United Progressive Alliance government has laid emphasis on health, especially for poor and rural people.

"You will agree that the success of the National Rural Health Mission is interrelated with rapid development of the indigenous pharmaceutical sector," stated Chakraborty.

He drew attention to the problem of the large number of authorities controlling the Indian pharmaceutical sector and warned that the potential for rapid development was not being harnessed properly.

"The sector has to be clear about the nodal ministry or department. There should be clear-cut responsibility for identifying constraints of the sector and for providing help to overcome them," advised Chakraborty.

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is estimated to be worth USD 12bn and ranks 17th in terms of value of export. In 2006-07, the industry achieved a growth rate of approximately 19 per cent for drugs and pharmaceutical items.

Around 37 per cent of pharmaceutical technologists in the US are of Indian origin and many leading Indian manufacturers have either set up establishments in the US or in the EU and have had their products approved by the FDA and other regulatory bodies.

In July and August 2007, Indian courts have denied incremental innovation patents to a number of international pharmaceutical companies looking to develop drugs in the region. As a result, some, such as Swiss-based Novartis, have withdrawn proposed R&D investment programmes.

30th September 2008

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