Proposed drug policy raises eyebrows
* ‘It will divest Valley-based pharmaceutical units of their business’
* ‘Will discourage investments in health sector’
Srinagar, Mar 30: Government’s new proposed drug policy has come in for severe criticism among the industrial fraternity here with pharmaceutical entrepreneurs in the Valley terming it “a move to divest us of our business.”
The new policy, according to the entrepreneurs, seeks to confine government orders for medicine only to a single multinational pharmaceutical company.
They said the move was sheer “injustice” to the local entrepreneurs. “It is quite astonishing that government is envisaging purchase of medicines from an outside multinational company. We fail to understand that if quality medicines can be manufactured in the Valley itself, then what is the need to procure the same from the outside,” exclaimed Deepak Koul, managing director Biopharma Protech.
“Keeping the local companies out would directly affect the industrial development in the Valley,” he added.
Pertinently, this newspaper had recently carried a news story saying: “under the new policy selected medicines would be purchased in bulk from a multinational pharmaceutical company to be made available in all the hospitals under a standardized prescription system.”
“It is good to have a drug policy in the state. But any policy that impinges upon the rights of the local entrepreneurs is bad,” said Kumar Wanchoo, proprietor, Eaton Laboratories, Zainakote Industrial Estate.
“How is it possible that a single multinational pharmaceutical company will supply medicines to all the government hospitals?” he asked.
Wanchoo said there was a dire need to have a transparent drug policy, so that maximum people could get the benefit of free medical facility. He said the products needed to be categorized in a way that keeps provisions for small-scale sector and the very highly technical products that were not manufactured over here could be purchased from the multinational companies.
He said tender system was a must for that. “You have to float tenders and call a competitive price, without which it won’t be practicable to have a drug policy,” he said.
He, however, said the tenders should be on year-to-year basis instead of for several years. “A tender should not be meant for many years at one go. In previous instances, one particular tender remained effective for as long as four years. And during those four years, if cost of some products went down, the benefit went to the supplier whose tender was passed and the exchequer lost lakhs of rupees,” Wanchoo said,” adding that there should not be much of bureaucratic or any other interference, “which opens doors for corruption.”
Koul said their company was soon coming up with a pharmaceutical plant in the Valley, on which they had already invested a huge sum of money.
“We are setting up a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical plant at SIDCO complex Lassipora, Pulwama, as per the latest World Health Organization fixed standards. The plant is expected to be operational by the end of May this year,” he said, adding that the plant shall be the first of its kind in the Valley with a project cost of around Rs 700 lakh in the first phase.
He said the facility shall include an ultra-modern laboratory for stringent quality control and testing facilities that shall test the products at all stages of the manufacturing from raw material to finished goods.
Koul said the company shall provide direct employment to around 150 people besides providing substantial indirect employment that shall be created due to utilization of products, services and utilities from the Valley.
“The availability of skilled persons will not be a problem, for Kashmir University already possesses a pharmacy faculty and good science graduates are abundantly available locally,” he said.
He added that setting up of the factory in the Valley shall be useful to consumers as well. “As the plant is being set up in Kashmir, the medicines shall be available to patients at a price cheaper by 15 to 20 per cent,” Koul said.
The plant, he said, shall also be able to produce life saving drugs and would be of great help to the society at large, especially during the times when the Valley remains cut off from the other parts of the country. “Therefore, we should be provided at least an equal opportunity as others, if not a preferential treatment by the government,” he said.
The managing director said that in addition to the domestic market, the company also intended to export the products to the Central Asian market. “Many overseas Pharma companies are already buying goods from various companies in India and selling in Central Asian countries. So we will be exporting our goods to the Central Asian countries from the day one of our operations,” Koul said.
He said the company has taken care of both quality and price—the two main criteria for procurement of medicines. “As we are setting up the complete infrastructure, we shall submit our products for bioavailability tests with whatever leading brands of the same medicine,” he said, adding that their prices shall also be competitive.
Koul said they had chosen Kashmir for their project “because the climatic conditions in Kashmir are the most ideal and rare for Pharma industry.” “Due to the ideal climatic conditions here, we would be able to save around 25 per cent of the project cost in temperature and humidity control equipments, which shall also result in lot of economy in power consumption,” Koul said, adding that the SIDCO Industrial Growth Centre was one of the most beautiful and developed industrial centres in India.
“Then with Srinagar Airport having become international and getting direct flights from Dubai, we would be easily able to export our products to Central Asia via this route,” he said.
Currently, he said, the civil structure of the factory is ready and the specialized internal works are being carried out. “Our endeavour is to complete the installation of all equipment in a few days and start commercial production by May,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Mar 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Mar 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 31 Mar 2010 00:00:00 IST
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