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DoP soon to approach finance ministry for additional funds for proposed PRIP scheme

Gireesh Babu, New Delhi
Tuesday, March 28, 2023, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

In line with the announcement in the Union Budget 2023-24 regarding a new programme for research and innovation in pharmaceuticals and multidisciplinary courses for medical devices, the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) may approach the Ministry of Finance for additional funds for the proposed new scheme for Promotion of Research and Innovation in Pharma-MedTech Sector (PRIP) with an outlay of Rs. 7,150 crore and setting up of an Indian Council of Research & Development and Innovation in Pharma-MedTech Sector (ICPMR).

Following the budget announcement, the Department has sent a proposal for consideration of Economic Finance Committee (EFC) for the PRIP scheme having following two components - One of strengthening the research infrastructure by establishment of seven Centres of Excellence (CoEs) at NIPERs and the second, of promoting research in pharmaceutical sector by encouraging research in six moonshot areas like new chemical entities, Complex generics including biosimilars, medical devices, stem cell therapy, orphan drugs, Antimicrobial resistance, etc., wherein financial assistance will be provided for the companies working with government institutes and for in-house R&D. The scheme has an outlay of Rs. 7,150 crore for a period of 5 years.

In connection with the budget announcement regarding supporting dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices in existing institutions, the department is preparing a scheme, which will be placed for appraisal of the appropriate agency.

Further, a proposal for setting up of ICPMR, in line with the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), is being referred to the Committee for Establishment Expenditure (CEE), before consideration by the Cabinet. These new initiatives will help in boosting research and innovation in pharmaceutical and MedTech sector thereby helping India become a leading power in development of new drugs and technologies, reduce import dependency, generate employment in the sector and help in realizing the vision of “AtamaNirbhar Bharat” in the sector of Pharmaceutical and Medtech sectors, the Department informed the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers.

S Aparna, secretary of the DoP has informed the Committee about the need for setting up of the R&D council under NIPER scheme as, “You said that there are so many institutions outside the administrative control of DoP which has pharmaceutical research whereas we have the mandate for Inter-Departmental Coordination. We would appreciate the Committee’s support. We want to set up the Indian Council of Research and Development and Innovation in Pharma MedTech on the lines of ICMR or ICAR”.

With respect to the National Institute of Medical Device and Education (NIMERs), for which there was no allocation against a demand of Rs. 200 crore in this budget, the DoP said that it is preparing a scheme, which will be placed for appraisal of the appropriate agency and based on the approval of the scheme, allocation or disbursal of funds will be sought from the Ministry of Finance.

Considering these submissions, the Committee, headed by Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, said that it is of the view that the proposed initiatives of the Department, that is the National Institute of Medical Device and Education (NIMERs) will provide specialized courses in the field of medical devices and CoEs under PRIP are crucial to strengthen the foundation of research and development in pharmaceutical and medical device sector in the country which is still lagging far behind other countries.

“Further, setting up an R&D Council like ICPMR is also the need of the hour to enable the Department for uninterrupted promotion and coordination in the Pharma-MedTech field. The Committee share the concern of the Department that our country needs support in high end therapeutics and medical devices and would strongly recommend that financial allocations be stepped up for the NIPER scheme of the Department and at least maintained at the previous level of Rs. 1,286 crore,” recommended the Committee in its latest report on Demands for Grants of DoP for the fiscal 2023-24.

For the Financial Year 2023-24, the Department sought an amount of Rs. 1,286 crore with an objective to launch new initiatives including Rs. 200 crore for the NIMERs, Rs. 233 crore for the CoEs, Rs. 50 crore for ICPMR and Rs. 243 crore for the PRIP. However, no funds have been allocated for the same and Rs. 550 crore only has been allocated for the existing NIPER scheme.

“The Committee are of the view that reduced budget allocation will adversely affect the progress and growth of the NIPER scheme of the Department. This is regrettable since the establishment of more NIPERs across the country would fill a vital need,” added the Committee Report.

The panel also recommended the establishment of a NIPER in a Southern State where interest in pharmaceutical education is high.

While the Department had sought Rs. 4,300 crore for NIPERs for a period of 5 years from 2021-22 to 2025-26, the Economic Finance Committee (EFC) approved only Rs. 1,500 crore.
“The Department has, however stated that keeping in view the budget 2023- 24 announcements with respect to pharma innovations and multidisciplinary courses for medical devices, additional funds will be sought from the Ministry of Finance at a later stage,” reported the Committee.


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