The First Pharmaceuticals Census of India – a commendable initiative by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)

Currently there is indeed a crying need for the pharmaceutical industry to generate a robust data base to formulate not only various healthcare related policies, but also to measure the level of their effective implementation. In the absence of such dependable and credible facts, most of the arguments, which take place between the government and other stakeholders, are mainly based on ‘your views’ versus ‘our views’.

An admirable initiative:

To address this critical need, more than a couple of years ago in February 2008, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) announced their intent to initiate the first pharmaceuticals census of India (FPCI). The main purpose of this census is to create a structured, comprehensive and dependable pharmaceutical industry related database in the country to capture valuable information, which could be prudently used by the government towards effective planning, policy making and good governance. NPPA is also expected to publish this census data for all stakeholders and other ministries within the government for appropriate actions.

Create a ‘Common Thread’:

This ‘Pharmaceutical Map’, I guess, will be able to create a common thread for the Ministry of Health, Departments of Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology, Ministry of Commerce & Industries and the Ministry of Finance based on which each of them will frame their respective healthcare related policies targeting the needs of a vast majority of the population of the country, for inclusive growth.

The ‘Methodology’ will be very important:

I understand that the FPCI is expected to cover over 10,000 manufacturing units in the country in a well-structured manner to produce an elaborate healthcare related credible data bank for India. The methodology that will be followed for this census will determine the credibility of the data thus generated.

My expectation from the FPCI is that, as announced, this will be able to provide credible details, among others, on the following ten key areas of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Units (PMUs) to enable the policy makers to frame policies based on the ground realities and at the same time measure the level of their effective implementations:

• Turnover by types and class (Micro, Small, Medium, and Large)
• Locations with separate details of Export Oriented Units (EOUs)
• Capacity installed, capacity utilized by major products
• Number of ‘own’ and ‘loan’ licenses units and by type of units, license issued by the respective state
drug controllers
• Types, class and pattern (plant & machinery, land & building) of investments
• Consumption of indigenous and imported inputs and utilities
• Adherence to GMP
• Product types and pricing
• Pattern of expenditure on R&D, clinical trials and quality control
• Employment generated in the country by the pharma sector

All these data will be available state-wise and district-wise by class and types of industry (API, formulations), among others.

It has been reported that NPPA has by now progressed quite a lot with the FPCI and the Final Report may be published soon.


It would have been excellent, if FPCI would also have generated data on ‘Access to Modern Medicines’ in India.

Be that as it may, this is an admirable initiative by the NPPA. Data thus generated will be immensely useful to all stakeholders, if updated in every 3 to 5 years to maintain their relevance.

By Tapan Ray

Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.