At a time when world's largest market for pharmaceuticals, the US is sparing no words to accuse India as a source of counterfeit medicines, and complaining about India's intellectual property protection policies and drugs and medical device pricing regulatory systems, an industry veteran - Gurpreet Sandhu - is attempting to build an organisation that can bridge the advocacy gap between India and the US.
Delhi based Sandhu, the managing director of privately held Reva Pharma, has taken the lead in setting up a global not for profit think tank - Council for Healthcare and Pharma (CHP). The Delhi headquartered think tank plans to open offices in the US, Japan and other countries. The Council is hitting the road running, as its first programme, Legislative Day at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C, for US Congress members and opinion makers, is on April 30.
"Over two dozen US Congress members are expected", says Sandhu, who himself will present India's case before US legislators. According to him, the event draws a cross-section of bi-partisan senators and congressmen interested in the cause of healthcare, members of the US health committee, influential US doctors and members of the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI). "At this select forum, the Council will be advocating mutually synergistic themes and avenues that can benefit both India and the US", says Sandhu.
"We believe that an integrated thrust from the best global thought leaders and companies can unleash considerable savings for both health systems allowing them to stretch their health budgets for additional coverage, greater efficiencies, service enhancements and deployment in alternate priorities", Sandhu says.
According to him, the opportunity to lower cost lies in emphasizing high quality generic formulary, realising supply chain efficiency, locating manufacturing where advantageous, leveraging new technologies such as robotics, AI and Blockchain for greater efficiencies. CHP states these opportunities can be developed where best feasible through a make in US or make in India initiative.
The council has sector experts from medicine, intellectual property, global trade, medical devices, IT and pharmaceuticals on its advisory board. Rajeev Kher, former Commerce Secretary is known to be one of the early members of the advisory panel. Sandhu said the council will be funded through membership fees. All stakeholders, healthcare firms both within India and abroad, will be encouraged to be part of the organisation.
India has critical mass in providing affordable, high quality generic medicines to the US and the world. India additionally has strengths in IT and a vibrant start-up environment for frugal innovation with interesting health applications being developed that have the potential to significantly enhance the efficiency and outcomes in delivering healthcare. On the other hand, American firms can outsource significant parts of their R&D efforts with considerable savings in new drug discovery and amplify their shortlist of drug candidates for further research and development. These drugs in turn can be marketed not only in the US but also in India and other countries. In addition, there are medical challenges of significant proportions like AMR which continue to deplete our arsenal of antibiotics by rendering them ineffective on account of overuse and misuse. The US has done a lot of work in alleviating this global problem and both countries can collaborate to mount a sizable program to mitigate this menacing challenge and such others, Sandhu explains his US-India linkage plans.
Though CHP members include domestic and global pharmaceutical companies, Providers of Diagnostics, Medical device Manufacturers, Hospitals and adjunct services, the focus of the council will be advocacy for the development of sustainable health systems around the world. We look at engaging with governments and other stakeholders to adopt rational approaches that capture benefits, that accrue through the optimization of the eco-system and value chain involved in treating diseases and keeping people healthy, Sandhu says.