Non-Affordability of Healthcare Services Is the Society's Biggest Challenge
By: Priyanka Singh, Director, Taj Pharma
Priyanka is the founder of an Agro company "Taj Agro Products" which deals in commodity sector and Food Industry in India and abroad. She has played a pivotal role in the decade transformational journey of generic pharmaceutical company, Taj Pharma Group. An accomplished business leader with extensive experience in international healthcare business development, start-ups and turnarounds, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, Priyanka in many ways led Taj Pharma's transformation journey, where she contributed significantly to the company's strategy and philosophy for MENA and Africa Region.
In a conversation with Women Entrepreneur Magazine. Priyanka shares her views about the health measures that need to be taken in 2023 and also talks about how can a company's strategy changes over time as it grows.
Can you tell us about different technology trends that can have a significant impact on sectors such as medicine, healthcare and many more.
Technology plays a huge role for development and improvement of healthcare sectors.
Few quick trends, I would like to highlight:
1. Having addition of ‘Robotic hands’ in manufacturing sector helping with zero defect packing and output of machines have gone much higher than earlier
2. Patient leaflets are now empowered with QR codes, which make patients more informed and safe medication.
3. Various Apps are already in market thriving well for blood sugar management, BP, watching pregnancy progress etc.
4. Our packaging material has high standard and we do maintain standard export guidelines, specially providing, braille reading embossed boxed, recycle-bin packs and marks for customers better experience
5. Post COVID, the world has witnessed a massive change in the health care sector. Rise of technology like AI, IOT and 3D printing are impacting the health care sector in a radical way.
Recent developments in gene targeting therapy like CAR-T therapy are landmark technological developments in the pharma sector. Additionally Nutraceutical products are a new category of emerging products that hold a huge potential of changing the Pharma sector. This itself developing into a parallel industry; where it encourage people to live in a holistic way.
With continuous R&D support and nudge from emerging technology, we hope to bring positive changes in our industry.
The more we rely on latest technology; we can produce better outcome for high quality medication at an affordable price tag.
In your experience, what is the most challenging part of developing a business plan? What criteria would you wish to impose on those who want to succeed in that industry?
Well in my personal experience, "challenging” won’t be a word I would use to describe my journey.
Well understanding of stringent SOP’s (standard operating procedures) of our industry is ever evolving and keep changing; that’s why we need to be always updated as per international norms of ‘FDA’.
I always believe in hiring people better than yourselves; which has helped me so far, I invest in talent and team building; sometimes its very difficult to find right mind set, yet not impossible, especially when our manufacturing unit is just 2 hrs drive from financial capital of India- Mumbai
Further, I view it as a " fulfilling journey of learning and developing great expertise from our industry’s best brains" . I have learnt a lot right from the inception of the business idea to incubation of the idea . The ups and downs are the inalienable part of the journey which I cherish.
Further, I have moved from big city like Mumbai to Sarigam GIDC, along with my small 2 year old son, so initially I felt whether I have taken a rational decision to set-up a manufacturing unit, or really moved away myself from hustle and bustle of metropolitan life. Yes, I must admit for initial 1st year things have really not moved the way I assumed, but gradually project progressed.
Quality should be the priority and we are a nation with almost 1 billion populations, so cost of medicine should be within the reach of low-class income families.
To all those who are new in this field, I just have a single mantra "Persevere because it is going to be worth it in the end". Work hard and remain a student always.
In your opinion what are the health measures that need to be taken in 2023? How can we improvise healthcare in Indian rural areas?
I strongly believe that non-affordability is real enemy of society; medicine is an essential commodity and people must have access of better healthcare. And rightly it has been mentioned in our ancient text which goes like this "Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah Sarve Santu Nairaamaya"(May all be happy, all be free from disease, be witness to all auspicious events and no one has to be a part of sorrow.").
That being said, post COVID there is an urgent need to strengthen Public Health System. It involves effective monitoring, awareness and preventive and curative actions. It will include measures like strengthening and training of ASHA, Anganwadi and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife workers.
We have a global model called "Mohalla Clinics of Delhi" in India which can be replicated across India for an effective health system in rural areas. We can also learn from "National Health Service -NHS" in England. We need a comprehensive change which includes educational, logistical, behavioural and financial initiatives.
For rural areas we can use ‘Post Office’ infrastructure to promote various health awareness programmes, our old age system of ‘Postal’ services can help us in big way to reach and teach rural pollution with govt. support.
Since from my childhood I have always curated idea to connect ‘Rural India’ healthcare system to mainline streams; however there is still Govt. Regulators and companies like us need to build a clear road map; ‘How to implement’ above idea within FDA norms in Indian villages.
Key vision of my life:
- Drug shouldn’t be monopolized in a country like India.
- Brand Originator should be paid their royalty, but essential medicine should have access within price cap to the patients
- Generic drug should be more promoted via Ayushman Bharat / Health ministry / private pharmacy’s
How can a company's strategy change over time as it grows? Why is it important to look at trends in the evaluation of a company's strategy?
Very 1st decade goes into its foundation where a company in pharmaceuticals manufacturing sector gives emphasis on infrastructure building, plant and machinery set-up, where primary focus is on improvising quality of products, availing products to their consumers etc.
Afterwards, once company attains some market exposure then company’s focus areas are overseas market. Having set-up a good distribution network, R & D plays a key role in Pharmaceuticals industry; either company needs to have its own team, or mostly they do outsourcing from known organizations globally.
- Our team is good combination of experienced and young minds
- We always give preference to challenge our set standard of Industry and encourage young minds to work on their own freedom and independence and figure out new ideas and innovations in R & D division, Testing, Analytical etc
- We have good products in Market and we are working for affordable care segment to reduce and bring down prices of Cancer drugs, and general medicine; as it is cancer which can really bankrupt a family and till today treatment cost is very high
Now a day’s most of the healthcare companies are implementing good ties-ups with online pharmacy chains like 1 MG, Apollo 24x7 etc which are also acting as good and effective E-commerce platforms for patients.
As a female leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?
I come from pharmaceuticals manufacturing sector; so organizing daily flow of workers at our factory, arranging packaging staff, giving direction to supervisors in order to maintain SOPs, HVAC, system maintenance etc., sometimes become very hectic and to channelize all at a time being a women; yet I am able to sail the ship.