Scope and Possibilities of the Pharma Sector in West Bengal
Prof. Malay Chatterjee
West Bengal is the land of cultural heritage. It has possessed a golden era in the history of Indian culture. West Bengal boasts of culture combined with the intellectual people. The origin of Indian Pharmaceutical Industry was well traced in the state of West Bengal. Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy led the foundation of Bengal Chemical and Pharmaceutical Limited (BCPL) as early as in the year 1901. Today BCPL has altogether four factories. Many other Pharmaceutical Companies have their centers in West Bengal including Albert David, Dey’s Medical Private Limited, and East India Pharmaceutical Works Ltd. The state’s 90% of 427 pharmaceutical houses belong to the small-scale sectors. West Bengal Pharmaceutical and Phytochemical Development Corporation has recently started to build its infrastructure and 55 acres of land at Kalyani for a common facility center for small- and medium- scale drug units. There is a possibility of development of a Park in the area. There is also a proposal for the State Government to set up a Pharmaceutical Industry Complex in the state.
Apart from this, the State Government has also planned to build a chemical hub at the Nayachar near Haldia. The chief focus of the hub will be on the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. Bengal may soon have a pharmaceutical hub modeled in the hike of software and IT industries.
At present, the existing pharmaceutical industries are not enough to cope up with demand in this zone, which has a population of 100 million. Compared to capture the market of entire east-zone of India and markets of neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malaysia, West Bengal is the ideal place for starting up a pharmaceutical unit. However, the requirement of pharmaceutical sector, viz. land, resources, technically competent intellectuals and knowledgeable professionals, transportation facilities, good market, R&D organizations, all of these facilities are available in West Bengal. Once the Pharma Industries in Bengal used to contribute more than 50% of the national drug production, but now it has come down to nearly 10% though potential markets are increasing enormously.
West Bengal has huge manpower, talented scholars in various areas of Bio-industry, Chemical Technology, Clinical Pharmacology, and Pharmaceutics too. The organised resources taken together could be an asset of the state for establishing various multinational pharmaceutical companies in the near future.
The Pharma-industry in Bengal may further be strengthened by the availability of the world class Pharmacy Institutes in the University of Jadavpur along with recent establishment of National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (NIPER). Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB), Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bose Institute, Indian Association of Cultivation of Science in the state are fundamentally equipped with internationally reputed scientists and sophisticated instruments. West Bengal is the intellectual hub of the country with a pool of bright products coming from the elite Universities of the state.
Requirement of Pharmaceutical Sector has to be taken seriously in view of: (i) Kolkata is becoming a prime medical center for patients of nearby countries; (ii) increasing health infrastructure with plans for health city in Rajarhat area; (iii) historical background of drug units and pioneers in the field; (iv) possession of wide variety of medicinal plants.
Our Chief Minister is successful in bringing multinational companies and major IT giants into the State. For setting up industry, what is required is a proper land-use map for the state. West Bengal is most accurately mapped in the country.
To show the people silver lining, let us celebrate the new vision for an industrialized state, we continue to dream, and we will achieve. For this, we have to usher a new mind set. We are quite hopeful that Singur impasse will be resolved soon. Socio-economic unrest will be there for sometimes, but acceleration of the healing process will start soon.
It can therefore be concluded that, West Bengal has enormous scope and possibilities for education, career, investment, and industry in the Pharma-sector. The bright youth intellect, positive attitude, passion, zeal, and enthusiasm will provide the basic platform for the same.
The Author is indebted to Sudipto Roy, Dhritiman Jana, and Aarush Kumar Nan for their assistance and timely interaction.
(The author is Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Jadavpur University, Kolkata)