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By SunderarajanPadmanabhan

The Government today launched a USD 250 million mission to give a major boost to the biopharmaceutical sector in the country as an industry-academia collaborative programme.

The main focus of the mission is to almost double India’s share in the global bio-pharmaceutical sector from the current level of a mere three percent to a more decent five percent over the next five years.

Launching the mission, Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan expressed confidence that it would help develop more affordable and effective indigenous vaccines , drugs and other therapeutics for various diseases from cancer to dengue.

The mission envisages the setting up of an inter-ministerial steering committee to oversee its implementation and a technical advisory board consisting of national and international experts to ensure that right measures are taken, he added.

India had been an active player in the pharmaceutical industry and has contributed globally towards making life saving drugs and low cost pharmaceutical products accessible and affordable to those in need. India has been a forerunner in developing a range of medical products including rotavirus vaccine, heart valve prosthesis and insulin.

However, despite all the advances in the pharmaceutical sector, India still lagged behind its counterparts in the developed countries by 10 to 15 years. It faces stiff competition from China, and Korea in particular. According to the Global Innovation Index, India ranked at 81 out of 140, way below China, which ranked at 29 and South Korea at 14.

The problems arise mainly due to disconnected centres of excellence, not enough focus on translational research and unfocussed funding. The sector is in need of consolidated efforts to promote product discovery, translational research and early stage manufacturing in the country, the whole value chain.

The new mission seeks to address these gaps and make India a hub for design and development of novel, affordable and effective biopharmaceutical products and solutions. Under the mission, steps are to be taken to accelerate the translation of research concepts into viable products, support clinical validation, enable development of sustainable networks for collaboration between industry and the academia and generate attractive entrepreneurial ecosystems, among other things.

The mission will be implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a public sector undertaking under the Department of Biotechnology (DBT). It has been launched in collaboration with World Bank. The global institution is providing a loan of US dollars 125 million.  – India Science Wire

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