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Tuesday, Sep 05, 2006

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Govt keen on reviving viable pharma PSUs

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Revival packages for BCPL, IDPL, 3 others, says Paswan

Towards health HAL given rehabilitation package of over Rs 500 crore of which Rs 137 crore is cash infusion. About Rs 253 crore sanctioned to HOCL and over Rs 100 crore for HIL.

Pune , Sept. 4

In tune with the agenda of the UPA Government to revive viable public sector undertakings, the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals has taken up the revival of Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Talking to presspersons after the rededication of Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd to the nation, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister for Chemicals, Fertilisers and Steel, said the rehabilitation package for BCPL had already been approved by the Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises (BRPSE) and it would be placed before the Union Cabinet soon.

The revival package for IDPL was being prepared and would be soon placed for the consideration of BRPSE.

Mr Paswan said five viable PSUs had been brought under its notice and they were HAL (Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd), HIL (Hindustan Insecticides Ltd ), HOCL (Hindustan Organic Chemicals Ltd), BCPL and IDPL. HAL had been given a rehabilitation package of over Rs 500 crore of which Rs 137 crore had been fresh cash infusion to meet its bank liabilities and to enable it to get working capital from the banks, he said. About Rs 253 crore had been sanctioned to HOCL and over Rs 100 crore for HIL, he said.

On Hindustan Antibiotics, he said the upgradation of facilities had been completed and the company had recorded sales of Rs 50 crore for the previous year. For 2006-07, it would touch Rs 80 crore and was likely to touch Rs 150 crore in 2008-09.The revival package should enable Hindustan Antibiotics to manufacture lifesaving drugs so as to bring down and keep a check on prices of some of the essential drugs.

Mr M.C. Abraham, Managing Director, Hindustan Antibiotics, said the company planned a new marketing strategy for its new products. It had decided to launch products such as cefuroxime, ceftriaxone, ceforperazone, ciprofloxacin and other antibiotics and also third-generation antibiotics such as levofloxacin, cefacior and lovastation. It would continue to produce premium and strategic products such as plasma volume expander, bio-fertiliser (for agriculture) and biopesticides. It had launched three antiretroviral drugs for HIV patients. It would manufacture first-generation HIV drugs and these would be made available in the domestic market within a couple of months. It would also work on second-generation HIV drugs that were currently patented, he said.

Purchase Preference Policy

Mr Paswan said the UPA Government has also taken another major decision to help pharma PSUs. It had approved the Purchase Preference Policy for medicines purchased by the Central Government for pharma PSUs and their subsidiaries for 102 drugs manufactured by them. This would provide an additional market of about Rs 300 crore to the pharma PSUs. HAL would also get the benefit of the policy, which would augment its revenues.

Essential drugs

Ms Sawant Reddy, Secretary, Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, said the department had come out with a new vision for pharma PSUs. During the early 1950s, there was negligible production of medicines in the country which later saw a boom with the entry of private sector participation, she said. The private sector currently was not keen on manufacturing certain drugs, though these were essential to the common man, including drugs for diseases such as kala-azar, malaria and tuberculosis.

"As health is the priority of the Government, we will utilise the capacities of the PSUs for the manufacture of such drugs. People have always asked why we were reviving the white elephant. Now these capacities can be put to use for drug manufacture for the common man," she said.

Training institutes

Another segment that required attention was the training of manpower. India hosted about 100 USFDA-approved units, which required upgradation. Since it was not feasible to send personnel across the globe for training, the Department was in the process of setting up world-class training institutes in the country. Five such institutes would be set up, she said.

Mr Paswan said the Government was also considering a PCPIR (petroleum, chemical, petrochemical investment region) for attracting foreign funds. It was looking at 250 of area that could be classified as a special economic region for the pharma industry.

"We will invite companies to set up their operations in this area and we will provide the infrastructure," he added.

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