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Biocon against national pharmaceuticals policy

BS Reporter  |  Chennai 

The proposed national pharmaceuticals policy that seeks to control the prices of drugs will only end up devaluing the country’s pharma sector, Biocon Limited said on Thursday.

The government was committing its “biggest mistake” by “not listening” to the industry ahead of finalising the matter, lamented Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson and managing director of the country’s leading bio-pharmaceutical company.Speaking at the sidelines of TieCon Chennai 2011, she said the government should, instead of introducing a policy “which will not serve any purpose”, strive towards formulating and passing a Bill that would ensure healthcare coverage for all citizens.

“Currently, it (healthcare coverage) is a self-pay market. There is a realisation that we need a national healthcare system. There is a Bill on this coming, but we need to do (implement) it fast,” added the boss of the 1978-founded Bangalore-based firm.

Shaw said she hoped the government did not go ahead with the pharmaceuticals policy. “It is a retrograde step,” she opined. “This knee-jerk to controlling FDI (foreign direct investment) in the pharma sector is draconian. It is detrimental to the interests of the industry.”

The 57-year-old entrepreneur noted that the price control era had, in the past, shown its capability to stop the production of essential drugs. “There are enough bulk purchasing and tendering mechanisms that will keep prices down. The government should rather spell out a Bill to ensure that people enjoy the benefits of healthcare coverage,” she said.

Shaw said the government has not listened to the pharma industry on the policy; what’s more, a single ministry is taking all the decision. There is no proper feedback mechanism for any policy the government introduces. Nobody knows whether they are working well . A classic exampleis the NREGA,” she said.The other example, Shaw noted, was repeated increase in the interest rate. “This is supposed to control inflation. But what it is happening is the opposite. There is food shortage,” she added.

First Published: Fri, November 25 2011. 00:39 IST