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India needs to focus on patent and R&D in healthcare: Dr Sarman Singh

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India needs to focus on patent, and research & development which paves path for enhanced patient care, enabling better patient care to people at large, said Prof (Dr) Sarman Singh, Director & CEO, AIIMS Bhopal, while delivering a speech at 3rd Healthcare Innovation Summit, Bengaluru  recently.

India is capital of diabetes. Other non-communicable diseases are also increasing in unprecedented manner, he further said.

Speaking on the occasion, Singh emphasised role of technology and innovations to catapult healthcare delivery system to extra mile. He also highlighted role of R&D and patents to boost patent care.

“We have minimum patents on front of innovations and technologies. One out of seven patents on technology was taken up by the Government of India recently. The patented technology helped us to eliminate Kalazaar, common disease in eastern parts of country. The kit we developed detects the disease within five to ten minutes. It helped to eliminate Kalazaar. It took years to make the kit and then launching it in the market.”

Singh said innovations need investment. But unfortunately, our budget allocation is not up to the mark in comparison to other countries.

“It is less than one percent of GDP. India allocates lesser amount on research and development (R&D). Korea and Japan are among countries which spend maximum amount of GDP on R&D. USA spends 2.3 percent while Korea and Japan spends close to four percent,” he said.

Singh highlighted that patent approval gets lots of time and is a very cumbersome process in India.

“We have only two patent offices in country, in Delhi and Kolkata. Number of applications and reviewers of these applications are lesser in number. After filing the application for patent, it takes five to six years for examination and final approval. In this period of time, other countries moves forward and starts leveraging the technology and innovations,” he said, while participating in inaugural session of the conclave.

“Maximum life of a patent is twenty years. Out of these 20 years, one already spends 10 years in taking approval, commercialisation and all. This is the reason Indian scientists don’t focus on patent. If they have potential, they migrate to other countries. They file patent in USA like countries where they easily get company to commercialize the product.”

Talking about Tuberculosis, Singh said the Government has announced to contain the disease by 2025, so have other international agencies. But we don’t have proper mechanism in place to exterminate the killer disease.

We are working on another technology related with Tuberculosis (TB), a disease which has affected people across the Globe. India is home to the world’s largest number of patients suffering from TB. And at 2.74 million reported cases every year, India has the world’s highest share of all TB cases. More than 40 percent cases are not detected, he said.

“The Government aims to eliminate TB by 2025 while WHO and other International agencies targets to eradicate the disease by 2030. But scientists say the disease can’t be eliminated by 2050. Presently, there is no technology and system to eliminate the disease,” Singh whimpered.

We have developed a technology to detect TB in just five to ten minute. But we are looking for partners to develop it further to be used by masses. Idea and biomarkers are there.

“TB is communicable disease which spreads by air. If one people will have the disease, whole community will be at risk. It has unique mechanism to spread from one person to another.”

Narrating how Europe put a stop on the disease, he said, “Earlier Europe was having maximum number of TB cases. But they controlled it through simple preventative measures including proper sanitation and emphasizing on hygiene. There was no TB drug those days. Anti-TB drug came into existence in 1945 only. There were no TB cases in India at that time.”

I urge the Government to make whole process of patent a smooth affair. Patent examination should be fastened.

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