Pharma sector offers potential for high exports but India overly relies on China for drug ingredients

drug ingredients, medicines, pharma sector, shaktikanta das, rbi governorWith strong drug manufacturing expertise at low cost, India is one of the largest suppliers of generic drugs and vaccines.

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das today said that the drugs and pharmaceuticals sector is among the sunrise sectors that offer the potential for higher exports in the post-COVID period. With strong drug manufacturing expertise at low cost, India is one of the largest suppliers of generic drugs and vaccines and some Indian manufacturers have already entered into new partnerships with global pharma companies to produce vaccines on a large scale, Shaktikanta Das added. However, India heavily depends on China for raw materials required in drug manufacturing, which is severely affected due to the lockdowns and supply chain disruptions.

There are 58 Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) for which the country is heavily dependent on China, D V Sadananda Gowda, Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers, said in a reply to a question in Lok Sabha. In FY 2017-18, 68.62 per cent of raw materials were imported from China, while the percentage remained 66.53 per cent and 72.4 per cent in the next two fiscal years, according to the parliament papers. Also, the restrictions on movement of people and lockdown enforced in various places, logistic issues, etc, are believed to have impacted the supply of raw materials from China.

Further, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) is reviewing all such applications for the import of APIs in an expeditious manner for which India is highly dependent on China. However, in an effort to overcome the over-dependence on China, the government has approved an investment package for the promotion of bulk drug parks and a production-linked incentive scheme is in place to enhance domestic production of drug intermediates and active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Meanwhile, in order to establish India as a global leader in pharma, efforts should be made to create a supportive regulatory set-up with a simplified pricing/drug approval process and expedited investment approvals, Arvind Sharma, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, had told Financial Express Online. The immediate focus of India’s pharma sector is to boost domestic capacities and capitalize on any opportunities which come in its way in case global players shift their base from China to India, he had added.

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