THE government may provide an interest subsidy to small and medium-size (SME) pharma companies to upgrade their facilities in order to meet stringent quality protocols. This particular proposal in the draft pharma policy is getting support from different wings of the government. The Prime Minister’s Office is keen to take forward the proposal for extending 5% interest subsidy to SMEs facing a fund crunch in order to meet the health ministry’s revised good manufacturing practices (GMP). A group of ministers (GoM) reviewing the new pharmaceutical policy is likely to take a decision on the issue soon, an official source said. The Planning Commission has already accorded an in-principle approval to provide Rs 560 crore for the scheme in the Eleventh Plan. The proposal is likely to get a goahead even as finance ministry cautioned the government on the budgetary implications of providing numerous fiscal incentives proposed in the draft policy. Once implemented, the interest subsidy scheme is likely to benefit close to 2,000 SMEs drug makers. The scheme would also come to the rescue of drug makers in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, several of whom have closed down due to lack of capital while others are struggling to find resources to meet the new GMP requirements. Several companies have also defaulted on loan repayments due to paucity of funds. The new GMP norms notified by the Union health ministry became mandatory with effect from July 1, 2005. The new requirements are comparable with WHO GMP norms. While the new norms have helped in standardising drugs produced by the SME manufacturers to those available elsewhere in the world, the exercise has substantially increased the upgradation cost for manufacturers. It is felt by government officials that low-cost advantage of SME drug makers should be protected in the larger national interest by providing suitable fiscal incentive in the form of an interest subsidy. As per a report of the Development Commissioner (SSI), contribution of SSIs in Indian Pharma market is 50% by volume and 30% by value.