Swati Piramal is the vice chairperson of Piramal Enterprises and director of Piramal Healthcare. She’s also a member of the Planning Commission and has influenced public policies in health care.
There is an interesting article by her in the Forbes today, in which she highly encourages innovation in low cost health care. According to her, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has been slowing from over 17 percent just two years ago to 10 percent this year. In the country, clinical trials approved by the Health Ministry have dropped from 500 two years ago to nearly zero.
She makes an argument that research on tropical illnesses and drugs to treat these illnesses will not come from multinational research labs but from Indian pharma companies. “ If this country is to depend only on new innovations from the West without regard to the types of mutations in viruses and bacteria increasingly affecting the Indian population, it will be a very high price to pay” she says. An increasing cancer risk and the high prices of drugs imported into India are together making the burden of this disease unaffordable to most patients.
She also talks of a silver lining. Although Indian trials have halted, Indian companies are sending their dossiers to Western regulators and the high quality of science is being accepted. However, India needs to quickly put in place a regulatory system that is fast and efficient.