Kerala’s pharma sector remains a laggard as govt apathy peaks

Kochi: Kerala consumes medicines worth over Rs 15,000 crore in a year. But the state has only 15 licensed pharma units. This is in stark contrast to the 10,500 units existing across the country. Kerala’s share in the overall exports of medicines from the country to the tune of Rs 1.55 lakh crore is a paltry Rs 50 crore, which is just 0.03% of the total volume! Kerala is lagging far behind when it comes to tapping the potential of the pharma industry in the country. States like Telangana give prime importance to pharma parks.

Scope for huge pharma village

Though announcements were made regarding the launch of pharma parks at different times in different forms, Kerala is yet to take any concrete measures in this regard. The Kerala Pharmacy Graduates Association submitted a detailed project regarding the scope of Kerala in this regard, but the Government turned a deaf ear. The Association took up with the Government the implementation of a pharma village project on 1,500-2,000 acres. The implementation is proposed to be made through a CIAL model company in a public-private partnership with an investment of Rs 22,000 crore. The project envisages Rs 1,650 crore for infrastructure development and an investment of Rs 20,350 crore in implementing the project. It will create approximately 1.37 lakh job opportunities. The state government will get a tax revenue of Rs 2,100 crore per year.

The Association assesses that the project implemented with the involvement of the promoter company, Central-State governments, pharma investors, and financial institutions will be beneficial to the state. The project envisages employment for educated youth from the state, revenue for the state government, and remarkable infrastructure development in the form of townships and others. Kerala, which consumes the lion's share of medicines in the country, gets a chance to be self-sufficient in medicine production with this Pharma Village initiative, said technical experts Mathew Kokkad and Suresh Kamath, who prepared the draft of the project.

Telangana's mega project

Though the Kerala government had announced that space would be provided for pharmaceutical industrial units at Life Sciences Park at Thonnakkal in Thiruvananthapuram and the proposed Petrochemical Park in Kochi, the same has not been readied. It had also announced an oncology park at the Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceuticals (KSDP) at Pathirappally in Alappuzha.

On the other hand, the Telangana Government is moving in the direction of being the pharma capital of the country. With the massive Hyderabad Pharma City (HPC) project, it seeks to attract investments worth $ 800 crore (Rs 65,000 crore). HPC will come up on 19333.20 acres in 232 villages.

The Telangana Government hopes that production can be started in two years after handing over the plots to the investors. They feel that India can challenge the hegemony of China in pharma production with this project.

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