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Strengthen healthcare and pharma sectors to cope with Coronavirus crisis, says CII

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is asking for strengthening the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors for combating the Coronavirus crisis. “The private sector can support the government in medical facilities, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment”, said CII.

CII suggested that hospitals in larger cities, and district hospitals in smaller cities and towns, should be identified or designated as COVID hospital for testing and isolation of patients.  Private sector hospitals can contribute to the required equipment and the manpower.

The trade body further suggested the adoption of wide scale tele-consultation to tackle the spread of COVID-19, especially in its phase 3 and 4. On strengthening pharmaceuticals industry CII said that, the current situation makes a compelling case for the government to declare active pharmaceutical ingredient as a strategic sector as most inputs are imported.  The industry body is also suggesting that firms with low capacity utilization of 40 per cent may be permitted to produce API which are being imported. Approvals for new investments should be fast-tracked. CII has proposed that blanket environment permission be provided to manufacture any API on submission of self-certification to comply with pollution load requirement. 

Other recommendations are to strengthen API and intermediates production in the country including creation of large API parks with fiscal benefits for existing API and intermediates plants, supportive regulatory framework and common infrastructure facilitating single window clearances for API parks; boosting drug formulations from indigenous API and its intermediates and providing incentives for new product development, processes and technology, among others.

The industry body estimates the outbreak could lead to significant shortage of supply in the medical technology sector as well, especially for critical medicines and medical devices such as thermometers, nebulizers, glucometers, etc.  “The medical devices market too is heavily import dependent, at around 70-80 per cent with imaging equipment (CT & MRI scanners), cardiac stents, orthopedic implants, glucometers, and critical care equipment cornering a large share. Many raw materials and components are imported from China,” it said.

While the real impact on industry is likely to be visible only after April 2020, the local manufacturer’s capacities will need to be bolstered which would likely become reliable sources amidst global shortages, said CII.

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