Considering the growth of the Indian pharma industry, the government has finally issued a notification for setting up a separate department of pharmaceuticals. The notification was issued on July 1. “The separate department would be carved out from the existing chemical and fertiliser department, which is now taking care of the sector. The process of setting up the separate department including finding a place, deciding on functions and number of joint secretaries may get completed in three months,” said an industry expert. Though the original idea was to bring the drug price regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) and Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) under one roof, the Cabinet has not approved it. “The NPPA and DCGI would not become part of the separate department. The pricing authority and the regulator would continue to work independently and this has been spelt out in the notification,” said the expert. With pricing and regulation, the two most important issues related to medicines, are kept out of the department, it would be interesting to see what all functions are defined for the department. According to sources, a list with 26 names have been presented before a cabinet committee to pick a secretary for the new department. It is learnt that NPPA chairman Ashok Kumar is among the front-runners for the position. “The position would be filled on the basis of seniority,” said an official. Mr Kumar has been elevated to the post of secretary but is yet to be posted in his new rank. The move to form a separate department for pharma is significant considering the robust growth witnessed by the sector in recent years. The decision to create a separate department dedicated to the sector was taken at a meeting of a Committee of Secretaries in April 2008, sources said. The intention was announced in May by minister of chemicals and fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan.

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