`Post-GATT India will witness more consolidations’
D A Gundu Rao, the gen secretary of the Karnataka State Branch of IPA, has held various esteemed positions in the Chemists and Druggists Association and also the Karnataka State Pharmacy Council (KSPC). He has been responsible for setting up Drug Information Centre, the first of its kind in India run by a State Pharmacy Council. Further, Rao plans to bring out regular newsletter for circulation among community pharmacists to improve their professional skill and to conduct Continuing Education Programmes for practising pharmacists to update their professional knowledge. Here Gundu Rao details on the activities of the regional chapter and its priorities for boosting the growth of pharma industry in the state.
On activities for promoting pharmacy education in Karnataka
The Karnataka chapter of IPA has shifted its arena from quality manufacturing to supply of drugs. We are concentrating more on patient counselling on rational use of drugs. All these years, our purpose was to promote the pharma industry in the state. Now that we have reached our goal as far as manufacture of quality drugs is concerned we have shifted our focus towards the patient awareness which is being taken up on war footing.
This year in Karnataka State we have taken up the theme of Women and Role of Pharmacists where we would like to educate women on rational use of drugs. We have also arranged 40 extension lectures where we would be reaching every district and taluk to address the rural womenfolk and tell them about the role of a pharmacist. IPA intends to go for direct dialogue with the consumer. We want to contribute our might for the total cause of healthcare.
On priorities for the pharma industry in the state
In fact, the pharma industry in Karnataka is not in the forefront when compared to other states in India. Despite having very good manufacturing units, the industry has been lagging far behind. We are planning to rectify the situation. The quality, the GMP practices which the industry here follows is a model to others. The policy of the government has affected the number of manufacturing units in the state. We can promote further growth of the industry by setting up a pharmaceutical park in lines with biotechnology park and IT park. This would enable more research activities and invite MNCs for research projects.
In the next four to five years there will be drastic change in the industry in view of GATT and WTO. I foresee more number of mergers resulting in less number of Indian manufacturing units. We should further improve the manufacturing units by providing them proper infrastructure both for the domestic companies and MNCs. Unless the Indian industry rises to the occasion and the state government takes initiatives to face stiff competition we will be nowhere in spite of producing quality products. The marketing strategy, new products and research of the MNCs across the world will have a stronger hold in the Indian market. Indian consumer is going to have the best medicines in the years to come. Health will be the number one priority.
On need to modify the drug policy
Drug policies have to be changed every now and then to suit the current needs. The industry wishes not to have any control over prices. Competition in the market brings down prices. The government on the other hand have their own policies. They want to control prices of drugs for diseases like blindness, cancer, nutrition, etc. This calls for elaborate discussion between the industry and the authorities so that a line can be drawn on where the industry needs free hand and the government to take into consideration the need of the downtrodden who cannot afford expensive drugs. But the prices of drugs in India is far less as compared to other countries. The government should have minimum control over the prices and the industry should have a free hand without compromising quality and taking undue advantage.
(As told to Vijaya K in Bangalore)