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Gujarat-cadre IAS officer who helped in GST rollout now leads Modi govt’s pharma department

P.D. Vaghela, a 1986-batch IAS officer, will be tasked with controlling the prices of medicines and medical devices in his new role.

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New Delhi: P.D. Vaghela, a Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, Thursday assumed charge as Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, three months after the previous incumbent retired from service.

In a late evening statement posted on Twitter, the DoP confirmed the development, over a week after Vaghela’s appointment was announced as part of the Modi government’s bureaucratic reshuffle.

P. Raghvendra Rao, secretary, Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, had been holding the additional charge after J.P. Prakash retired from the post in May.

In his previous assignment, Vaghela was commissioner of commercial tax in Gujarat. He is counted among the key officers who played a crucial role in the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2017. He was the convenor of important central committees on GST, and shuttled between Gujarat and Delhi to attend various meetings before the implementation of the single tax regime.

Under his new responsibility, Vaghela will primarily be looking at controlling the prices of medicines and medical devices.

Also read: TN govt changes 28 IAS, 88 IPS officers in 5 weeks in major bureaucratic reshuffle

Vaghela’s career path

The 1986-batch IAS officer started his career as developmental head of two district councils in the state. He went on to serve as district magistrate, according to his profile on social networking website LinkedIn.

In 2008, he was appointed as chairman of Kandla Port, where he served for five years before being named commissioner of commercial tax.

The Modi government empanelled him as secretary in July last year.

P.D. Vaghela holds an MBA in finance from BK School of Business Management, Gujarat University.

His new role

The Department of Pharmaceuticals takes care of several key initiatives of the Modi government, particularly the flagship Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana for affordable medicines.

The DoP also controls the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA), the government’s drug and medical devices pricing arm. In its first term, the Modi government slashed the prices of stents, knee implants, and cancer drugs through NPPA.

As part of the ‘pricing control proposal’, which has been prioritised in the DoP’s five-year vision plan, the department is set to further regulate the medical devices industry, which is pegged at over Rs 80,000 crore.

The top challenge for Vaghela will be to “promote Indian pharma as the global leader for quality medicines”, which is the foremost point in the DoPs five-year vision statement.

“Considering the growing noises around the quality of Indian medicines due to the series of lapses uncovered by foreign regulators, such as US Food and Drug Administration, the plan would require his expertise,” a bureaucrat working with DoP told ThePrint.

Also read: Like his tenure as finance secretary, IAS officer Subhash Garg’s exit was also on own terms


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