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Chamber for pharma R&D fund, biotech regulatory panel

Our Bureau

New Delhi , March 22

THE Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) has submitted a proposal to the Government for the formulation of a `pharmaceutical R&D support fund' to create an autonomous Drug Development Promotion Foundation.

The fund would provide venture capital financing of high cost, low return R&D. The chamber recommended that the management of this fund should also become an autonomous and knowledge-centred council.

In the note submitted to the Government, the chamber President, Mr M.K. Sanghi, also made some recommendations regarding the biotechnology industry. He says that there should not be any import duty on capital goods and consumables used by the biotechnology industry, a tax holiday for 10 years must be given and the incentive package should be more attractive than that offered to the information technology sector.

Mr Sanghi proposed creation of a biotechnology regulatory commission that is charged with the responsibility of resolving conflicting interests and integrating co-ordinated development in biotechnology and related businesses and ethical/moral issues. There will be need for a regulatory framework that guarantees absolute privacy of an individual's genomic information, modification of the Genetic Code and various other issues relating to bio-safety studies.

According to the chamber, to give the necessary support to biotechnology IPRs, patent offices should be modernised, physical and intellectual infrastructure improved with at least 300 examiners.

The paper submitted by the chamber President states that the global biotechnology industry comprises over 6,000 companies, out of which nearly 700 are public and the rest are privately-owned, spread over 25 nations. The sector is an emerging force in the Asia-Pacific region experiencing notable expansion in Australia, China, India and Singapore.

India is fast emerging as a significant force on the global biotech map with support from the Government, rising public interest, growing investment by traditional business houses and availability of significant foreign investment.

According to Assocham, many factors have fuelled the growth of the biotechnology industry. Operational costs are up to a tenth of those in developed markets and a large pool of scientific talent is available at moderate cost. Also, Government initiatives to set up biotech parks across the country are helping set up a low-cost manufacturing base.

Indian sales of biotech products touched $1 billion in 1999, and are likely to be $10 billion by 2005. There are currently about 110 units in health care products, 140 units in agriculture and about 300 in industrial and other biotech products.

More Stories on : Industry Associations | Pharmaceuticals | Bio-tech & Genetics

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