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Budget 2023: Focus should be on R&D infrastructure, integration of digital health initiatives

Budget 2023: Focus should be on R&D infrastructure, integration of digital health initiatives

The COVID pandemic saw a renewed focus on the pharmaceutical industry in terms of increased budgetary allocations over the past two years and expectations are accordingly set for the 2023 Budget as well

The COVID pandemic saw a renewed focus on the pharmaceutical industry in terms of increased budgetary allocations over the past two years and expectations are accordingly set for the 2023 Budget as well The COVID pandemic saw a renewed focus on the pharmaceutical industry in terms of increased budgetary allocations over the past two years and expectations are accordingly set for the 2023 Budget as well

The Indian pharmaceutical industry has grown to become one of the most significant players in the world, with a position of importance in the generic and affordable vaccine segment. The industry has seen large foreign and domestic investments in the last two decades, and it is reported that the global pharmaceutical industry revenue reached approximately $1.42 trillion in 2021. With India achieving 200 crore plus vaccine doses, the pandemic-induced curbs were relaxed and the pent-up demand for healthcare services bounced back across the sector. Overall, the pharmaceutical, healthcare, life sciences (and medical devices) sector embraced newer challenges in 2022. Post the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the year 2023 brings in renewed positivity for India’s pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors. The COVID pandemic saw a renewed focus on the pharmaceutical industry in terms of increased budgetary allocations over the past two years and expectations are accordingly set for the 2023 Budget as well.  

While the healthcare sector received an impetus in the previous Union Budget allocation due to the requirements posed by the pandemic, there are certain key expectations by the stakeholders from the upcoming Union Budget such as: 

Allocation of additional funds for research and development activities involving formulations and active pharmaceutical ingredients to reduce dependencies on China – which is currently a dominant player in the market; Setting up of a separate R&D policy in respect of the pharmaceutical/healthcare sector to provide increased support to the current research and innovation ecosystem prevalent in the country – this would also help attract investments in the sector; Provide incentives to chemical manufacturers to adopt novel manufacturing processes assisted by biocatalysts and further bolster Indian research efforts; 
Introduction of  focused initiatives for the development of orphan drugs and therapies for rare diseases which are eligible for clinical trials in order to further facilitate the growth and development of the industry; and Reduction in Goods and Services Tax (GST) on medicines and import duty on APIs to inure to the benefit of the patients as that would result in lesser out of pocket expenditure. 

The healthcare sector will also need the Union Budget’s extended assistance in order to sustain itself in the long run. Crucial requirements include development of healthcare and pharmaceutical infrastructure, development and administration of formal training programs for doctors and support staff, specifically in Tier-II and Tier-III cities across India as it will pave for accessible healthcare with better infrastructure and better patient outcomes while also mitigating the pressing issue of affordable healthcare.  

The digital health industry has grown rapidly since the pandemic and a few of the reforms that transformed healthcare in India in last five years include telemedicine, e-pharmacies, wearables, e-diagnostics, remote care, newly notified medical devices, technology relating to medical devices, QR codes in drug or API products, healthcare platforms, integration of new technologies, and the National Health Digital Mission. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how data-driven, digitally enabled business models can be adopted in healthcare sector to enhance quality of care in India. Currently, there are more than 7500 health tech startups in India, and the last few years saw some major investments in such health tech companies. By 2025, it is anticipated that India’s healthcare sector will increase in size to $50 billion. The future of the healthcare system ecosystem will be about how healthcare delivery will change efficiently and effectively over the next decade and what it means for both patients and healthcare providers. This will maximize the clinical, financial, and operational value of these new digital offerings and services. Tier-I cities may have benefitted from the adoption of digital health, while access and integration of healthcare services remain low in Tier-II and Tier-III cities as well as rural and remote areas of the country which fall on the wrong side of India’s digital, economic and literacy divide.  

In conclusion, the infrastructure needs to be developed to cater to the Indian population while keeping in mind the country’s demographic realities. Focused efforts by the Government to bridge the digital divide in India will ensure a smoother transition from conventional modes of healthcare delivery to technology-enabled solutions which optimise costs and time and bring more people within the healthcare net. 

Views are personal. Sapra is Partner and head-healthcare at Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas; Lenin is Partner, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas; Rajkumar is Associate, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. 

Published on: Jan 25, 2023, 6:47 PM IST
Posted by: Priya Raghuvanshi, Jan 25, 2023, 6:41 PM IST