Indian pharma optimistic, despite no Budget announcement, ET HealthWorld

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New Delhi: The interim Union Budget 2024 presented by Finance Minister Niramala Sitharaman today had no specific announcement for the Indian pharmaceutical sector. ETPharma brings together the views of pharma leaders on the Budget 2024 announcement and its impact on transforming the healthcare scenario in India.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon & Biocon Biologics:

An All Encompassing Growth Focused Interim Budget For ‘Viksit Bharat’. “In the Interim Union Budget 2024-25 , Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has provided a comprehensive roadmap for sustained economic growth that will enable India to achieve a developed economy status by 2047.

Her emphasis on research & innovation, bio manufacturing, green technologies, robust infrastructure development and technology-driven digital transformation augur well for India to deliver on aspirational yet people-centric, inclusive development.

The allocation of research & innovation corpus of Rs 1 lakh Crore for long term financing at Zero or low interest for sunrise domains is a welcome move in line with the honourable Prime Minister Modi’s vision of Jai Anusandhan. Her commitment to fiscal prudence while investing in the upliftment of poor, welfare of farmers, empowerment of women and skilling of youth is indeed commendable.”

Dr K. Anand Kumar, MD, Indian Immunologicals:

“I commend the initiatives outlined in the Interim Budget 2024, particularly those addressing women and children’s health. These measures signify a concerted effort to strengthen India’s healthcare system by prioritising preventive care, expanding access to essential services, and leveraging innovation for better health outcomes.

The decision to provide and actively encourage cervical cancer vaccines for 9–14-year-olds reflects a proactive approach to preventing a significant health burden among young girls. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women globally, with millions of cases reported annually. Investing in this preventive measure is poised to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer and its associated morbidity and mortality rates in the future.

The budget has also allocated INR 1 lakh crore towards establishing a corpus, offering a 50-year interest-free loan to scale up research and innovation significantly in sunrise industries. This allocation presents a promising advancement within the vaccine industry. It allows for the integration of new-age technologies in vaccine development processes, especially for mRNA and Adenoviral vector vaccines.

Furthermore, the rollout of the U-WIN platform for immunisation underscores the government’s commitment to streamline vaccination efforts and improving coverage rates across the country. There is a hope that this budget is prioritising areas such as preventive healthcare, and wide-reaching immunisation efforts.”

Nikkhil K Masurkar, CEO, Entod Pharmaceuticals:

“While no specific announcements were made towards the pharma sector, these healthcare initiatives outlined in the 2024-2025 Union Budget are encouraging and have the potential to usher in a new era in healthcare. However, as pharmaceutical professionals, we were anticipating more substantial capital investment directed towards pharmaceutical research and development.

The establishment of more medical colleges within existing infrastructure and the introduction of cervical cancer vaccination for girls aged 9-14 are positive steps towards enhancing the healthcare ecosystem. The consolidation of various schemes under a comprehensive maternal and child health program, along with the expedited upgradation of Anganwadi centers and the nationwide rollout of the UWin platform, signifies a holistic approach to healthcare.

While no changes were made in direct or indirect taxes, including import duties, the government’s focus on measures that encourage economic growth is highly appreciative. The next five years are poised for unprecedented development, and we look forward to actively participating in initiatives that enhance both the economic and healthcare facets of our nation”.

Sudarshan Jain, Secretary General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance:

The Interim Union Budget 2024 focuses on Viksit Bharat and spells out broad strategy for comprehensive development of the nation. The Pharmaceutical sector is a knowledge-driven industry and the emphasis on innovation is of vital importance. The industry aims to move up the value chain by spending on innovation and R&D.

The Government has announced further strengthening healthcare infrastructure with an emphasis on skilling, leveraging technology for immunisation and increasing health coverage of Ayushman Bharat. The focus on healthcare will further India’s overall development . We look forward to the thrust on research and innovation in pharma during the comprehensive budget later this year.

Dheer Shah, CFO of BDR Pharmaceuticals:

“In the evolving landscape of healthcare, where innovation intersects with compassion, the government’s initiatives mark a pivotal stride towards holistic well-being. As the curtains rise on FY2023-24, the commitment to allocate Rs 45,03,097 crore reflects a resolute dedication to fortify our healthcare infrastructure. The emphasis on cervical cancer vaccination for young girls underscores a proactive approach towards preventive care, while extending Ayushman Bharat coverage to ASHA and Anganwadi workers exemplifies a recognition of their invaluable contribution to public health.

Consolidating maternal and child healthcare schemes echoes a harmonised vision for streamlined implementation and amplified impact. Simultaneously, the impetus on bio-manufacturing and bio-foundry heralds a sustainable paradigm shift, where innovation converges with environmental stewardship.”

Hitesh Sharma, Partner, Life Sciences Leader – Tax, EY India:

“Given the Government’s perspective of keeping the interim budget an on-account vote, the Finance Minister did not dwell into any specifics, leaving the changes for the full budget post elections. While she spoke of the past performance, as far as the Health Science Sector is concerned, there was some perspectives on things to come in future.

There was a commitment to focus on setting up medical colleges in existing hospitals, focus on women healthcare with encouragement of cervical cancer vaccination for young girls, maternal and childcare-related schemes for improved nutrition delivery, early childhood care and development etc. The focus on research and innovation was given a further boost by announcing a one lakh crore corpus for providing interest-free loan for a long duration for research and innovation for private sector. Also the cover under Ayushman Bharat Scheme has been extended to cover ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers and helpers.

On the tax front, the expectation of extension of concessional tax regime of 15 per cent for manufacturing facilities beyond 31 March 2024 remained unmet. While we will look at the full budget in July for more details, what is also positive is that there is increase in outlay on Health for FY 2024-25 versus the revised estimates for FY 2023-24. So overall the budget continues the path for growth of healthcare and access in India.”

  • Published On Feb 1, 2024 at 04:02 PM IST

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