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Draft NPP Calls for Streamlining Digital Healthcare & Reducing Environmental Impact

Written by : Jayati Dubey

November 9, 2023

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The policy embraces digital technologies, including telemedicine, EHRs, and data analytics for healthcare and pharmaceutical innovation, using AI, machine learning, and blockchain.

The draft National Pharmaceuticals Policy (NPP) for 2023, recently released by the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) for stakeholder discussions, has called for streamlining the digital healthcare ecosystem and reducing its environmental impact.

This policy is set to provide critical support and direction to strengthen the pharmaceutical sector by harnessing digital capabilities, making it a competitive, self-reliant, resilient, and innovative industry that caters to both India's and the world's healthcare needs.

The policy acknowledges the transformative potential of digital technologies, such as telemedicine, electronic health records, and data analytics, in healthcare delivery and pharmaceutical innovation. It aims to enhance drug safety, supply chain management, and regulatory compliance by leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain.

The policy paper highlights the necessity to shift from a "siloed approach towards health data" to a more visionary concept of the "convergence of drugs, devices, and data" in the knowledge economy.

The existing fragmented health data systems, medicines, and devices have been causing inefficiencies in multi-stakeholder processes and interactions. Streamlining these systems is expected to result in significant cost savings and improved efficiency for patients, manufacturers, and service providers.

The NPP aims to stimulate innovations by harnessing human capabilities and digital technologies, utilising data to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of drug development, production, distribution, and the application of integrative technologies.

The envisioned future is one where digital platforms facilitate seamless access to healthcare services, offer real-time tracking of drug quality and availability, and empower consumers with information to make informed decisions.

The policy also promotes the adoption of digital tools and technologies to enhance drug procurement, distribution, and pharmacovigilance processes. It aligns its operations with the Prime Minister's vision of "Panchamrita," focusing on reducing the environmental impact of pharmaceutical production, distribution, and disposal.

This involves implementing sustainable manufacturing practices aimed at reducing emissions, waste generation, energy and water consumption, and fostering innovation in green technologies.

The NPP outlines principles and guidelines for ethical research, marketing practices, and corporate governance. It seeks to implement and enforce sustainable manufacturing practices by reducing energy and water requirements, emissions, and waste generation. These initiatives are geared towards making the pharmaceutical sector more environmentally responsible and sustainable.

Just days back, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) initiated plans to establish a Digital Drugs Regulatory System (DDRS) to serve as a unified digital ecosystem, simplifying regulatory activities for drugs, medical devices, cosmetics, and more.

The CDSCO aims to improve trust and confidence in the quality of healthcare products in both domestic and global markets. The proposed DDRS will consolidate existing portals, providing a single window, single sign-on, and unified portal for all regulatory activities.


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