DoP will shortly request additional funding from the finance ministry for the proposed PRIP scheme.

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The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) may approach the Ministry of Finance for additional funding for the proposed new scheme for Promotion of Research and Innovation in Pharma-MedTech Sector (PRIP), with an outlay of Rs. 7,150 crore and the establishment of an Indian Council of Research & Development, in accordance with the announcement in the Union Budget 2023–24 regarding a new programme for research and innovation in pharmaceuticals and multidisciplinary courses for medical devices (ICPMR).

Following the budget announcement, the Department sent a proposal to the Economic Finance Committee (EFC) for consideration for the PRIP scheme, which has two components: one to strengthen the research infrastructure by creating seven Centers of Excellence (CoEs) at NIPERs, and the other to encourage research in six moonshot areas, such as new chemical entities, Complex generics including biosimilars, medicinal nanotechnology, and nanomedicine. The programme will cost 7,150 crores of rupees over the course of five years. The department is putting up a plan in accordance with the budget announcement regarding funding special multidisciplinary courses for medical devices in existing institutions, which will be submitted for evaluation by the competent agency.

Also, before being considered by the Cabinet, a proposal for the establishment of ICPMR, in line with the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), has been referred to the Committee for Establishment Expenditure (CEE). The Department informed the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers that these new initiatives will help in boosting research and innovation in the pharmaceutical and MedTech sector, helping India become a leading power in the development of new drugs and technologies, reduce import dependency, create employment in the sector, and help in realising the vision of “AtamaNirbhar Bharat” in the sector of Pharmaceutical and MedTech.

According to S Aparna, the DoP secretary, “You indicated that there are so many institutions outside the administrative control of DoP which have pharmaceutical research while we have the responsibility for Inter-Departmental Coordination,” the R&D council under the NIPER scheme needs to be established. We would value the Committee’s assistance. Under the model of ICMR or ICAR, we intend to establish the Indian Council of Research and Development and Innovation in Pharma MedTech. Regarding the National Institute of Medical Device and Education (NIMERs), for which there was no allocation despite a demand of Rs. 200 crore in this budget, the DoP stated that it is putting together a plan that will be evaluated by the appropriate agency and, based on the plan’s approval, funds will be requested from the Ministry of Finance for allocation or disbursement.

After taking into account these comments, the Committee, which is chaired by Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, stated that it is of the opinion that the Department’s proposed initiatives, namely the National Institute of Medical Device and Education (NIMERs), which will offer specialised courses in the field of medical devices and CoEs under PRIP, are essential to bolstering the foundation of research and development in the pharmaceutical and medical device sector in the country, which is still lagging. “Moreover, establishing an R&D Council similar to ICPMR is also urgently required to allow the Department to maintain promotion and coordination in the Pharma-MedTech sector. In its most recent report on Demands for Grants of DoP for the fiscal 2023–24, the Committee made the strong recommendation that financial allocations be increased for the Department’s NIPER scheme and at least maintained at the previous level of Rs. 1,286 crore. “The Committee share the Department’s concern that our country needs support in high end therapeutics and medical devices,” the Committee said.

The Department requested Rs. 1,286 crore for the Financial Year 2023–24 with the goal of launching new initiatives, including Rs. 200 crore for NIMERs, Rs. 233 crore for CoEs, Rs. 50 crore for ICPMR, and Rs. 243 crore for the PRIP. Unfortunately, no funding has been given for it, and the current NIPER scheme has only received Rs. 550 crore. “The Committee believes that a decreased budget allocation will negatively impact the development and expansion of the Department’s NIPER scheme. This is unfortunate because expanding the number of NIPERs would meet a critical need, according to the Committee Report.

The panel additionally advocated for the creation of an NIPER in a Southern state with a strong interest in pharmaceutical education. The Department requested Rs. 4,300 crore for NIPERs over a five-year period from 2021–2022 to 2025–2026; however, only Rs. 1,500 crore was approved by the Economic Finance Committee (EFC). The Department has, however, announced that extra funding will be requested from the Ministry of Finance at a later date in light of the budget 2023–24 announcements with respect to pharmaceutical advances and multidisciplinary courses for medical devices, according to the Committee.

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