What Indian Pharma Lobbies Can Learn from the G-20 Summit

The G-20 Summit at Pittsburgh last week forged a new framework for strong, sustainable and balanced global growth. The key highlight was the inclusion of India amongst other emerging countries into the economic power club. Countries such as Brazil, China and India suddenly assumed great importance on the global stage not because of their military superiority or because they threaten US world dominance. It is more to do with the fact that is best described by the scholar Minxin Pei as, the world moving towards multipolarity.

The intersection here with the Indian healthcare space is that the size of the market beckons big businesses. As the market grows in attractiveness and competitiveness, regulators are bound to take notice. These can cause unpleasant entry barriers, rise of nationalistic pride, unhealthy protectionism and other similar issues. This unpleasantness is bound to affect the smooth distribution of opportunities and economic development that has the potential to impact and improve millions of lives of people at the bottom of the pyramid.

Industry lobbies such as Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) that is a member of the International Federation of Pharmaceuticals Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), a global body representing the R&D pharmaceutical, biological and vaccine industries, must begin to actively work with the government to smoothen out issues and ensure lowering of entry barriers for international best practices to percolate to India. At Pittsburgh, it was quite remarkable how much of Prime Minister Singh’s policy prescriptions made their way into the final communiqué. This is indeed a great example of excellent diplomatic lobbying by the Indian leader and one from which the Indian pharma lobbies can learn much. It is emerging that India will have an unprecedented central role in shaping the final outcome of some of the most vital negotiations in history.

This can be largely attributed to the fact that Dr. Singh brings more to the table than any other world leader when the discussion turns to economics, and President Obama, appears to have recognized that quickly. The key here is credibility. Dr. Singh’s past record seems to have worked for him. Industry chieftains in India must not lose time to create similar credibility. While OPPI member organizations undertake many credible initiatives, they hardly derive PR mileage from it preferring to lay low instead. Back channel lobbying, if it happens, certainly delivers too little too less often to be worth the effort. What is needed is focused and concerted initiatives by the industry to create a recognized public health improvement drive. And by this I don’t mean the pharmaceutical industry alone but all stakeholders in the healthcare business.

Its time all the leaders in the healthcare services sector came together to work for the common good of the industry just as all leaders of emerging markets stood together to exert their say on the global stage.

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