Don't bring a drug under price control because it's widely sold: Shailesh Ayyangar
Shailesh Ayyangar, managing director of Sanofi India and president, Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI), tells Veena Mani that India needs to have set criteria to define “essentiality" of medicines, for bringing these under the price control regime. Edited excerpts:
What policy intervention does India specifically need to address the issue of non-communicable diseases (NCDs)?
Prima facie, we need a well-defined financial system that will give different strata of society access to medical services. There are lacunae in health care financing. Ministries of finance and health must work in tandem to provide insurance for outpatients. The government also needs to allocate resources, develop infrastructure and ensure affordable medical services. When it comes to treating and addressing NCDs, India fares poorly among even emerging economies.
The government is slowly but steadily bringing a number of drugs under price control.
Essential medicines can be regulated. Taking price control beyond these is causing difficulties for the industry. The industry’s ability to build capacity and invest in research & development (R&D) is curtailed, as price control is being taken beyond the scope of “essentiality". We want set criteria to define the essentiality of medicines. Essentiality cannot be inter-changeable. Just because a drug is widely sold, it does not mean it should be brought under price control.
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Could bringing down the price of drugs for some critical NCDs reduce the number of people suffering?
Merely bringing down prices will not help reduce NCDs. For instance, a diuretic is under price control. It costs less than a rupee. And yet many patients suffer from cardiovascular diseases.
Do regulations not give you impetus to invest in R&D in India?
India is expensive, in terms of personnel and time, for us to invest in the country. India also needs strong intellectual property rights (IPR), if R&D is to improve. We want our intellectual property to be safeguarded with a strong IPR.
Would Sanofi not think of expanding in India?
Commercially, Sanofi and other members of the OPPI are committed to investing in India.
Do US Food and Drug Administration inspections get tedious at times?
Each country has its own set of regulations that we need to abide by, if we want to enter its market. We are okay with their checks for quality.