The Pharma industry, globally, faced immense challenges during the COVID pandemic. However, to answer the call of duty, the Government of India and the Indian Pharma industry joined hands to gear up to cater to the needs of the Healthcare sector. From locally producing drugs for the Indian populace to mass manufacturing of vaccines, antivirals, and PPE kits for over 150 countries, the India Pharma sector played a pivotal role in battling the COVID pandemic. Addressing the Elets Pharma Leadership Summit organised by Elets Technomedia and eHealth magazine, J. Jayaseelan, Vice President – Industrial Pharmacy Division, Indian Pharmaceutical Association, shared his insights on the evolution of the Pharma sector in India during the COVID crisis.
In the past two years, all the economic sectors faced the adverse impact of the lockdowns imposed due to the global pandemic, and the Healthcare sector was no different. Despite immense challenges, healthcare professionals worked 24×7 to save millions of lives. Doctors are the first when we speak of the Healthcare sector. In the initial phase, doctors were not aware of the treatment for the pandemic-led symptoms, and they tried multiple drugs to stabilize the situation. Meanwhile, the Pharma sector was all set to extend any kind of help or support to doctors and medical practitioners. The Indian Pharma industry not only supported the doctors at the time of need but also extended support to around 150 countries exporting all the essential medical supplies. Even during the later stages, the Indian Pharma industry kept on supplying medicines and vaccines to the countries in need.
Apart from the challenges that the COVID pandemic brought forth, it also posed a boon in disguise. The COVID crisis bolstered the connection between the Government of India and the Pharma industry. Also, it strengthened the connection between the Indian Pharma industry and the global players in the sector. The pandemic has made governments and citizens, worldwide, realise the significance of the Pharma industry.
The crisis-struck era witnessed numerous disruptions in the Pharma sector and the development of new drugs, medicines, and vaccines. The global players in the sector joined hands with the Indian Pharma sector and many antiviral drugs, and patented drugs were provided with licenses restricting the exclusivity of the product to counter the global pandemic. Many multinational companies handed over their drugs to Indian Pharma companies for mass production and distribution of the drugs and vaccines worldwide. Over 600 million doses of vaccines were supplied during the pandemic period.
When COVID struck, there were only a handful of manufacturers dealing with PPE kits. Many multinational companies have partnered with Indian companies for mass production of the kits. Also, many local manufacturers came up and contributed to fulfill the mass requirement for PPE kits. “India was chosen for mass manufacturing of the pharmaceuticals and drugs because we have the potency to match up to the volume of production required. Within a matter of three months, we started manufacturing for the world and not only to cater to the needs of the Indian populace. Nearly everything that was needed to tackle the pandemic situation, the Indian Pharma sector posed to be the resort for the entire world, especially when the question of mass production and distribution surfaced.” Jayseelan highlighted.
Besides the pharmaceuticals and PPE kits, the Indian Pharma sector has also mastered the art of managing the supply chains effectively. For transporting the vaccines to remote areas across the country, temperature-proof packages were needed. The industry managed to meet the needs and ensured that vaccines reached the masses in every nook and corner of the country. “We saw perfect coordination and unity between the government, industry, and the people.”