In Conversation With Sudarshan Jain, General Secretary, IPA

Wednesday September 22, 2021 at 1:05 pm

We had the privilege to talk to Mr. Sudarshan Jain, Secretary-General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, and anchor IIMA Healthcare ASIG at the recently conducted IIMPACT HEALTH 2021 presented by TiE Mumbai and IIMA Healthcare ASIG. Here is an excerpt from the session with him. 

Sudarshan Jain has a strong passion for healthcare and the education sector. Currently, he is the Secretary-General of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (, Senior Advisor – Apax Partners, and Board member of multiple organizations. He is also the Chair of the International Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (IGBA) for 2021. He has served in several leadership positions for over 40 years in the Healthcare industry (Lupin, Johnson & Johnson, Piramal, Abbott) and was formerly the Managing Director at Abbott Healthcare Solutions.

His current Board engagements include Abbott India, Healthium Limited (Apax portfolio company), Indian Education Society (IES), Advisory Board of Narsee Monjee University, Mumbai (NMIMS). He is the Visiting Faculty at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. He has contributed to shaping the healthcare policy and improving access to healthcare in India.

He is an Alumnus of St. Stephens College, Delhi University, and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad.

How do you see the pharmaceutical sector in the post-pandemic era?

The global pharmaceutical and healthcare industry has witnessed the impact in an unprecedented way due to the outbreak of the COVID-19. The Pandemic has unlocked new opportunities for the Indian pharma sector. Investing in innovation and R&D, adopting a patient-centric approach, driving digitalization, and fostering partnerships with global organizations will help domestic companies expand their horizon and establish a stronger position in the international market in the post-pandemic era. The pandemic has also provided the industry an opportunity to reevaluate its role and attain self-sufficiency to strengthen its position as the pharmacy of the world.

What potential do you anticipate for employment growth in the pharmaceutical industry over the next few years?

The pharmaceutical sector across the world is innovating and growing rapidly. It has opened new vistas and great career opportunities to numerous science students. According to the report of IES (Indian Economic Survey )2021, in the next decade, the domestic market is expected to grow 3x. India’s domestic pharmaceutical market is estimated at US$ 42 billion in 2021 and likely to reach US$ 65 billion by 2024 and further expand to reach US$ 120-130 billion by 2030.

With rising trends of innovation and R&D in the sector, the employment profiles will move towards digitization and advanced analytics. Upskilling the existing talent and nurturing future talent in science would be key to drive the next growth phase for the industry. We are one of the largest pharma industries in the world and this widens the scope of pharma studies in India and abroad.

In your opinion, what kind of policy change/reforms would you suggest to the government for the betterment of the pharmaceutical sector?

The Indian pharmaceutical industry has played a pivotal role in driving better health outcomes across the world through its affordable and high-quality generics medicines. The contribution of the industry has become even more prominent since last year as India continues to support the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A favourable policy landscape through coherent policies across scientific research, technology scale-up and commercialization, funding, Intellectual Property framework will prove to be a key building block in developing the innovation ecosystem in India. Currently, India has  innovation and R&D policies for different product groups with each having different goals and outcomes and vastly different timelines. These numerous policies lead to incoherence and make articulation as well as implementation challenges. We need to have a robust governance framework that provides a favorable regulatory environment to nurture innovation.

Creating a single-point regulatory agency will help address issues such as approval timelines, process complexities, lack of consistency in the review and approval processes, and capacity constraints. The role of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) should be strengthened by augmenting the skill base and digitalization to make processes more efficient leading to quicker approval and earlier discovery of risk and safety issues. Single point of contact for new projects and initiatives along with a project management structure with definite accountability can help reduce the time to bring a medicine to market.

What are your learnings from IPA?

IPA has been a great learning platform where I got the opportunity to interact with the CEOs of the leading companies, work with policy planners both in India and abroad, and the passionate team which is committed to contributing to keeping India at the center stage of healthcare. We have been dealing with unprecedented challenges in the COVID times and the challenges are in terms of economic, social, financial, and educational because of stringent norms in place. This requires agility, adaptability, openness, and learning at every stage. The key area of working at IPA is the lesson – ‘learning never stops.