December 6, 2021
Saugata Roy speaks on The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021
Sir, I rise to speak on The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The first NIPER was set up in Mohali in 1998. Since then, six others have been set up, in Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Hajipur in Bihar, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Raebareli. Now, the object of this Bill is to bring all these NIPERs under one council, which is to be headed by the Minister himself. The idea is also to reduce the power of the boards of governors of the NIPERs by reducing their members from 23 to 12 and label all the NIPERs as institutes of national importance. These are the three major objectives of this amendment.
Pharmaceutical education and research is very good and very necessary. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we realised the value of manufacturing new medicines and new vaccines. Some of our companies have done extremely well, including Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. Other pharmaceutical companies like Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, etc. have done very good work in developing new medicines. They are doing some good work and some good research. A 161 MOUs have been signed with the industry, and 5,277 research papers have been published. But I want to know from the Honourable Minister, tell me about one significant medicine or vaccine that has been developed by your NIPERs so far. You have spent a lot of money in paying salaries but what have you really done?
Earlier these NIPERs were not running B Pharm courses. In Kolkata, for instance, we have Jadavpur University providing B Pharm degrees. The NITI Aayog has advised the starting of B Pharm courses at all the NIPERs because there is a great demand for the course. People who work as medical representatives need a B Pharm degree. Those who work in medicine companies too need B Pharm degrees. Earlier it was only M Pharm and PhD which were offered at the NIPERs. I would like the Minister to present to the House a position paper on the work done by the NIPERs so far.
Sir, you would be surprised to know that apart from the one in Mohali, none of the other six institutes—in Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Hajipur, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Raebareli—have got permanent campuses yet. They are functioning from other campuses. For instance, the one in Kolkata is mentored by the CISR’s Indian Institute of Chemical Biology. I would suggest to the Minister to consider the surplus land at the sulphuric acid plant of Bengal Chemicals in Panihati in Bengal, under his ministry—which is in my constituency, and which company’s disinvestment we are strong\gly opposed to—to be used for setting up a full-fledged campus of NIPER.
The other thing is that you had promised to open a few more NIPERs because there is much demand for them. But as yet nothing has happened on that front, for years together. The last ones to be opened were in Ahmedabad in 2014 and Hajipur in November 2018. The Government has not given approval for any more NIPERs. So I think it is necessary to start the other NIPERs, as promised. There is a lot of demand from Tamil Nadu, which is asking for three NIPERs. So I would like to know when these would be opened. The government did a great job with the IITs, which were set up earlier. But the NIPERs have not yet achieved that prominence. The committee noted that there are proposals to create five more NIPERs in Madurai, Jhalawar, Nagpur, Naya Raipur and Bengaluru. What happened to the NIPER that was to come up in Madurai? Or in Bengaluru? Why have they not been set up so far? The Minister has to answer. But then, the Minister now has become a very big minister as the whole Health Ministry is under him. He is also the chairman of the council of NIPER. Where would he find the time?
These are high-end research institutes. We must encourage our scientists, pharmaceutical specialists and pharmacologists to do first-rate work at these institutes. The committee had also recommended that similar courses in natural products and traditional medicines be introduced at the NIPERs. So far, these NIPERs have been doing research only on allopathic medicines. But what about research on natural products and ayurvedic medicines? The Ministry of AYUSH may present a separate Bill to promote and develop research on indigenous medical systems at NIPERs. The committee recommended that more B Pharm courses must be started to expand the pool of professionals for pharmacological research. So, there is nothing very controversial about the Bill.
The Government wants us to become ‘Vishwaguru’, according to the Prime Minister. We exported vaccines to 80 countries. But that’s also how our own vaccination programme got delayed by three months, six months. So, Vishwaguru agar banna hai, pehle apne ko guru banaiye. Ike saath main yeh Bill par apna bhashan samapt karta hun.