Updated on 11 January 2013
What about the demand and supply? How can the growth assessment be done?
Growth is about demand and not only about science. For example, non-generic drug industry requires ample demand. That is essential, as its absence will hamper investments into research and purposeful output. What is required is the technology driven by innovation landscape together with promotion of entrepreneurship and industry-academia interaction. My confidence arises from the government policy for expansion of the health sector. It is the demand push and users of medical technologies that will drive the industry. Above all we must take a long term view of biotechnology.
One thing that I have learnt over past five to six years is that biotech output must be measured only through societal transformation. I think it is a mistake to look at biotech as a business as there are as other much easier ways of making money. When you look only at the percentage type growth assessment, it makes the whole process meaningless. The correct way is the measurement of impact created by biotechnologies on meeting healthcare and other needs.
What are your views on the regulatory approval process in the country and the latest developments on the proposed Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI)?
We are currently going through the host of issues. Human greed is creating havoc with the system. Apart from that, mounting energy requirements too is a reality. The only way out is science and technology. Therefore we have to be nimble for the future.. I always believe that our regulatory system has matured a lot and is well capable of handling issues except at the level of commercial release of the product. BRAI was meant to streamline the efforts in this direction. We are experiencing difficulties for long in passage of the bill in the parliament because of concerns that can be readily removed.
For example if there are concerns on upmanship of one ministry, then chief secretary can function as a nodal person for all the ministries. The authority can have a chairman of high stature and management followed in a way that best practices are followed with respect to training, standardization but also enough number of people. One thing is very clear and that is everybody to understand that nothing can be gained by opposing BRAI.
For me regulation is in two steps. One is scientific evaluation that requires best scientists and processes that match the opposition with best practices in world. Well at the same time, this is also a reality that we can't have every Indian on it but what is important is that it has the most stringent regulations to satisfaction of all. The second part is that of commercialization and that involves state governments, central government and civil society.