Govt to begin: new drug molecule made in India

Government plans to create a separate department for R&D with a focus on discovering new drug molecules.

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New Delhi: The Government is planning to create a new department to begin hunt for a “made in India” new drug molecule, to demonstrate its drug discovery capabilities.

In a first-of-its-kind move, the government is planning to create a separate department for “research and development” for new drug molecule with a focus on discovering new drug molecules that are “commercially viable”. I

t is also planning a separate post for the department’s head.

The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), the apex authority under the parent Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, is fine-tuning the proposal overseen by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), two government officials told.

In its five-year vision document, the DoP had planned to “stimulate R&D in pharma” after the government came back to power for a second term in May.

“It will be the first time that India will have an official to head the new department R&D in the pharma industry. He or she will be responsible for stimulating the development of new drug molecule that are commercially viable,” a senior DoP official, who did not wish to be named, told ThePrint.

“Despite ample ongoing research projects in all the top institutes of India, we haven’t discovered any commercially viable new drug molecules,” the officer added.

India remains out of the club of nations that have demonstrated the capability of developing a new drug molecule, despite being the third largest seller of medicines in the world — with 3,000 pharma companies and a network of over 10,500 manufacturing facilities.


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DoP plans

To boost drug discovery, the DoP in September had formed an inter-departmental committee to coordinate R&D activities undertaken by various top institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPERs) and the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) among others.

Led by Pharma Secretary P.D. Vaghela and other joint secretaries in the department, the panel has now proposed to create a separate vacancy for the post of R&D head.

“Duties of R&D head are also being outlined. The committee is also studying the research gaps where all top research institutes such as IITs and NIPERs will be invited for consultations,” said a senior official in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.

The committee is also proposing the plan to work on “creating industry-academia linkages”.

“For instance, if innovators at IIT have created a drug molecule, the government will help in finding pharma companies in launching the product in the market.

Committee will also brief on clauses for revenue sharing between innovator and pharma firms.

“The objective of the committee is to guide innovators and industry to create commercially viable projects. DoP will extend help to these projects through its annual budgetary allocations,” said the official.

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