Shedding some light on the current status and challenges in the market of life-saving drugs.
What should we look out for? What should we look forward to?
We have seen the evolution of the Indian Pharmaceutical industry over the years. We have witnessed how demand has driven investors to fund drug research to make it the giant industry that it is today. What does this mean for the critical industry of life-saving drugs? Does this mean that the future is bright for this vertical? Or do we keep the challenges in mind and manage our expectations?
The Indian Pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest in the world. It ranks third in terms of production volume and fourteenth in terms of total value. The turnover of the industry was a staggering 21.04 Billion USD between the years 2008 and 2009 and this number is projected to scale as high as 55 Billion USD in the coming years and numbers like these simply cannot be ignored. This is the direct result of the Government paving the way for big players through newly formed regulations to promote the industry.
Currently, heavy investments are flooding in to aid research for drugs against chronic diseases, and Cancer and AIDS are at the top of that list. But with this, come a number of challenges that are to be faced by the Government that question the method with which these actions are made. The research may give rise to more life-saving drugs making their way into the market, but not without prior patenting by the producing companies. One of the challenges is the justification of patenting these drugs. On one hand, the inventors of the medicines have a right to claim their intellectual property and patent their medicines, while on the other hand, we find heavy criticism coming from the perspective of human rights protection. This is a tough question to answer, since both the paradigms have equal weightage on the subject. This issue has been the topic of debates for many years now and still remains inconclusive.
Another challenge is the pricing of life-saving drugs in the market. This topic of debate is only second to the patenting issue and remains so to this day. The high price tags of these medicines are making it difficult for many individuals in need to access them and aid their fight against chronic diseases. The Government though, has plans to intervene by adding a price cap that would be imposed on life-saving drugs in the near future, which is sure to help make them more accessible. Under the list of medicines listed in the National List of Essential Medicines or NLEM, only 348 formulations are currently subjected to a price cap. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) however, insists that the NLEM list be revised and be more inclusive, so as to cover a wider range of drugs. While this move would impact the major players that cover majority of the market, it would certainly give a ray of hope to the citizens who are struggling to access life-saving drugs in the market.
Generic medicines are also prepped to come to the rescue in the life-saving drug vertical. Generic medicines are those that are equivalent to the branded products in every aspect but can be made available with a much lower price tag. India is one of the leading exporters of generic medicines with an estimated worth of 11 Billion USD, according to the information shared by the Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers. He also goes on to claim that the Indian Pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest and most developed in the world.
With the advancements and challenges kept in mind, should we be optimistic about the future of medicinal drugs, or should we tread lightly and see how the situation evolves?
Let’s keep a watchful eye how mission life-saver progresses.