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Industry & Economy - Budget


A bitter pill, says pharma sector

P.T. Jyothi Datta

Mumbai , July 8

IT has come as an extremely bitter pill for pharmaceutical companies in the country, with Budget 2004-05 not having the strong initiatives required to give the sector "that additional push".

For a sector that is poised at a significant threshold, come January 2005 - when the product patent regime is to come into force - Union Finance Minister Mr Chidambaram's budget today cut no ice.

"It is an extremely disappointing Budget, with absolutely no mention or support to the pharma industry," Mr Dara Patel, Secretary General of the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association told Business Line.

The domestic drug segment did expect a directional statement from the Minister on patents and drug pricing, despite the latter having landed up in the Apex Court.

They had also expected a halving of excise duty from the existing 16 per cent. Sops for research and development, clinical research and Intellectual Property Rights-related initiatives were also conspicuous by their absence, domestic drug industry representatives said.

Disappointment was the sentiment that echoed in Pfizer's Executive Director (Finance), Mr Kewal Handa's observation too. "The pharmaceutical industry has been ignored. If they were looking at bringing foreign direct investment, there should have been strong initiatives on clinical research and IPR. But this found no mention in the Budget.

"Worse, the counter-veiling duty goes back to the old 16 per cent and this could impact prices. Not enough has been done in healthcare either, since the investment envisaged in the Common Minimum Programme has not been reflected in the Budget."

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