A Step towards strengthening monitoring process and ensuring quality & efficacy of medications
Even before access to medical facilities or doctors, access to medications is prioritised in India. This basically means that, in the event of illness, one would probably take a tablet first and then, if judged necessary, consult a doctor.
With medication consumption taking primacy, the pharmaceutical industry’s main area of focus needs to be drug quality. It’s not that the industry supports the unchecked consumer behaviour of buying over-the-counter medications, but it is the industry’s responsibility to produce high-quality medications with fewer side effects.
Developments are Underway
Healthy foreign direct investment, mergers, and collaborations are taking place in the sector (such as co-development, licensing, joint distribution and joint ventures). Domestic firms are attempting to enter the lucrative global generic industry. Each year, there are also more and more Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDA) submitted to the USFDA. The pharmaceutical industry is undergoing a paradigm change as attention moves away from producing generic medications and towards drug discovery and development. Over the past ten years, the regulatory framework has undergone several changes that have brought numerous changes in the industry. All necessary medicines listed in the National List of Essential Medicines 2015 have had their prices brought under price control as a result of a new price control order that went into effect in 2013. 34 new medications were added to the National List of Essential Medicines, which was recently updated, adding 384 new medications while eliminating 26 from the prior list. Additionally, India has started taking steps to gradually impose primary, secondary and tertiary barcoding requirements on all of its exports. In addition to all these steps by the government, to prevent unethical medication promotion to healthcare professionals, a voluntary unified code for marketing strategies by pharmaceutical corporations was developed. Due to their unapproved usage or the absence of a justification for their combination, a significant number of fixed-dose combination medications were also banned.
The Transformation of the Indian Drug Regulatory Situation
The Central Drug Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) is in charge of approving new medications before they may be sold across India. The CDSCO is greatly increasing its capacity for inspections. Only roughly 50 inspectors worked for the national government in 2008. 375 people were added in the following years. Going by its mandate to double the manpower, the CDSCO was planning to recruit 500 more drug inspectors by 2017.
Currently, the CDSCO oversees research institutes carrying out that work in India and is in charge of approving biologicals. But whether there should be a separate track for biologicals, maybe under the Department of Biotechnology, is still up for debate. According to CDSCO, everything should be maintained under one roof.
In India, more than 500 facilities with USFDA approval are in operation. India is now regarded as a model for production facilities at the high end as a result. Regulators and the private sector in India previously had serious doubts about the USFDA’s intentions but that has changed. FDA regulators are now welcomed and helping to improve the technical capabilities of the Indian industry. With the support of the present administration, CDSCO is now able to quickly put new technical suggestions from the FDA into practice.
New Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill 2022
The Centre introduced The Drugs, Medical Devices, and Cosmetics Bill 2022 in early July of this year. The 1940 Drugs and Cosmetics Act was intended to be replaced by the new bill since the pre-independence legislation basically said nothing about medical devices or the equipment used in healthcare.
The objective of the bill is to ensure and provide comprehensive legislation to regulate that the medical products sold in the country are safe, effective and conform to prescribed quality standards to the individuals. The other objectives are mentioned below:
- To update and consolidate the legislation governing the importation, production, distribution, and sale of pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and cosmetics
- To guarantee the quality, safety, efficacy, performance, clinical exploration of investigational medical devices, and clinical testing of new medications
- To guarantee that medications, cosmetics, and medical equipment sold in India are trustworthy, effective and meet quality standards
- To adjust to the technical and medical advancements of today
- To increase domestic medical device production and draw significant foreign investment in India’s healthcare sector
The new bill will not only enhance the quality and efficacy of pharmaceutical products but also facilitate the ease of doing business.
Additionally, the Department of Pharmaceuticals’ Draft Pharmaceutical Policy 2017 aims to offer a thorough policy to “guide and develop the pharmaceutical industry of India to enable it to preserve and enhance its global competitive edge in quality and costs.” The new policy is anticipated to make basic medications affordable for the general public and to make the pharmaceutical industry self-sufficient by encouraging domestic drug production, encouraging research and development, and ensuring the quality of medicines that are exported and used domestically.
While the government is making its decisions, policy-making also depends on how the entire industry creates advocacy for a common objective. The next decade should be devoted to improving medicine quality because it is only by ensuring quality medications, India can continue to develop. It is crucial to recognise that the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts directly affect people’s lives all over the world, which is the main reason why we must be one of the most responsible stakeholders in maintaining national health.
The government of India’s (GoI) mandates of “ease of doing business” and “make-in-India” are expected to be considerably aided by all of the policies and reforms outlined above. They have the power to significantly alter the market by reducing unethical marketing techniques, contract manufacturing, and loan licensing. To ensure that these policies achieve their goals, the GoI will need to find a balance between industry and economic demands and provide the less fortunate segments of society with access to affordable, high-quality medicines.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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