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‘The Future of Healthcare, Pharma and Allied Industries’ virtual panel series conducted

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The session had presentations by six start-ups, each offering a solution, which is very relevant in the present situation

“We must look at the future of healthcare, we have been thrown in the deep end of the virtual world. We should embrace technology to become more efficient. The use of technology in drug discovery and development in India is comparatively recent. India is in a better condition due to the cost advantage we have in using digital technology and software. The drug discovery and development process needs to innovate from a regulatory point of view. The drug discovery should have parallel processing instead of sequential processing to reduce the drug discovery time,” Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon, opined in conversation with Mahavir Lunavat, Group Founder, Pantomath and Co-founder, CorpGini, while addressing the session on Pharma and Healthcare’s New Normal: Engaging With Customers in Uncertain Times; Business Model Post-COVID-19.

‘The Future of Healthcare, Pharma and Allied Industries’ virtual panel series on was conducted from May 29-31, 2020. The session also had presentations by six start-ups, each offering a solution, which is very relevant in the present situation. Seis gmbh, Cyclops Medtech, Statwig, ElixiaTech, AI Digi Beings and Arivation Healthcare. 

Mahavir Lunavat, Group Founder, Pantomath and Co-Founder, CorpGini, said, The Indian pharma industry has come a long way over the past 50 plus years. What software was for India in the year 2000’s, pharma is today to the country.” Highlighting the global dominance of Indian pharma, Lunawat said it is equally important to be aware of challenges. “We have certain fundamental challenges, poor spending on healthcare infrastructure, lack of strong supervisory mechanism to name a couple of them. Besides, there are notable advances in AI-based and machine learning for healthcare tools. It will have a lot of disruptions in pharma and healthcare industry.’’

Amit Jain, Co-Founder & CEO, CorpGini, termed it as a very impactful session. “The panellists have given valuable insights and feedback. Innovations are happening globally and there is a need for collaboration. Corporates are looking for solutions and new age start-ups are doing cutting edge innovations. We are providing corporates various opportunities to discover, connect and collaborate using CoroGini’s platform,” said Jain.

Referring to the expectations of a COVID-19 vaccine being created and made available in a short time, Shaw emphasised, “We believe it will take a long time before you have a safe vaccine that can be given to the entire country. It is a complex process, which normally takes at least four years, we are being asked to do it in just one year. There are a large number of processes to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Then there are regulatory requirements for 3-4 months before you can manufacture and then get into large scale production. Let’s not delude ourselves. We need to deal with this pandemic for two years before getting a vaccine,”

Underlining the need to invest in healthcare, Shaw said that healthcare is a capital and skill intensive sector. “If you don’t have healthcare you can’t have an economy. We’ve been thrown into the deep end of the digital world. We should embrace technologies to become more efficient. Technologies being developed to use data to see how serious the patient is. You can see the prognosis. Is there a good immunisation therapy that makes us more resistant to the virus? There is a need for a systematic, data-led approach that keeps people safe. Ayushman Bharat has done a great job with looking after the poor, but it has to look at cashless hospitals. We have an opportunity to deliver universal healthcare, wellness centres can also function as primary healthcare centres,” she said, giving examples of countries that had managed to curb the spread and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic like Thailand, Japan and Vietnam, where there is an emphasis on people and environment being clean, where they wear masks during any infection.

Suneeta Reddy, MD, Apollo Hospitals, said, “We are the pharmacy of the world. We are more than just drug makers. Even in healthcare, we are doing at one-tenth of the cost. It can be emulated around the world. I truly believe the impetus that was given to the IT sector in India, like free land, no taxation, needs to be given to healthcare. We need to create the capability to fight better with the diseases in the future. The government has done a lot, enabling setting up medical colleges, but much more needs to be done. We need to be looking at PPP models, viability gap funding, being able to attract foreign investment. There needs to be investment in healthcare, not just infrastructure but also skilling.”

“Technology is here to stay. In healthcare, it’s not disruption but evolution. We have pharmacies and online delivery, testing at people’s homes. Telemedicine has moved care from hospitals to the home. While people are worried about data privacy, the government has to encourage it. We have mobile vans to do an ultrasound. We can come out with ways for prescriptive and personalised care. It’s about creating AI platforms,” added Reddy.

A Velumani, Managing Director, Thyrocare Technologies, said, “COVID-19 is going to be an opportunity for the healthcare industry. A lot of investment will come in the healthcare industry. The learning of the past 60 days learning was equal to that of the past 60 years. Overall, we have managed to master testing, the rest depends on the government and the administration. Each state will define its regulatory method. Health gone can erode the economy completely, I have a reason to believe COVID-19 will make healthcare the most positively impacted and it will emerge as the most powerful sector.”

“Today panic creates more damage than the disease. Investors are waiting for things to settle and then invest in what we are lacking in. There is a need to make the labs highly efficient so that customers and investors profit. The entire healthcare will be divided into COVID and non-COVID hospitals. This will mean the sector will grow twice on its own. In diagnostics, there should be a pyramid approach. Death per million needs to be the focus of measuring the infection. Healthcare will be a promising industry and will have a wonderful future for the next 20 years,” added Velumani.

Before this, the first session of day two had an impressive panel deliberating on the theme ‘Healthcare & Pharma: Investors’ Perspective.’

Sailesh Raj Bhan, Fund Manager, Nippon AMC, said, “Pharma, healthcare and diagnostics sector is underinvested and under-penetrated in India. India is a developing country with developed country diseases. Pharma is one of the simplest sectors to invest in, similar to FMCG. India has created a manufacturing base to the world and we are the largest suppliers globally. There is a lot of opportunity for growth.”

Manoj Garg, Director, White Oak Capital, opined that “Companies that have a focus on the chronic side of the portfolio versus the acute side of the portfolio are what we should prefer. How do we look at pharma companies from a construct perspective? The first thing is the company should have more formulations than API, branded generic than just generic, more focus on chronic disease segment of the portfolio. India is moving up the curve, from generic to complex molecules with investments in R&D. As an investor, we need to look at the ‘bottom-up’ kind of approach instead of top-down. We should be mindful of how sustainable the growth is.”

Anmol Ganjoo, Director, JM Financial Institutional Securities, explained, “Competency build-up takes time in the pharma sector. Once companies have built the competency, then they’re able to monetise. To deliver on that in terms of profitability takes longer. In the market, we are either ahead or behind the curve to understand this. Most of the large companies in India have put in a lot of hard work. Every incremental evaluation will have some players in the market left out. It would be management qualities or the bandwidth relative to what they have invested.”

Aditya Khemka, DSP AMC, pointed out that “None of the pharma companies in India do only domestic / export business. We do not know how much is a company making from domestic / emerging markets / export business, we need to deep dive into it. Some of the small scale pharma companies don’t make significant gain and go into losses.”

Madhusudhan Kela, Founder, MK Ventures, said, “In 2008, the overall market cap was Rs 1.4 lakh crore, in 2015 when we peaked out, the market cap went to Rs 8.8 lakh crore. We’ve only come back to what we were in 2015. In an era when banks are giving 3 per cent return, where real estate is not making any money for you, if I can identify a company that will double my money regardless of the time it takes, is what we should be looking for. Pharma companies had a significant rise in the last two months, but it is premature to conclude the horizon. We are not even close to fair valuations.”

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