Pharma exports can cross $20 bn by 2020: Chief of Pharmexcil

Pharma exports can cross

India’s pharmaceutical exports can cross $20 billion by 2020 even though the value of shipments to countries including the US have been hit, an industry body said. This is due to increasing interest from neighbouring countries, including China, on which India has been heavily dependent for crucial ingredients for its formulations, Ravi Uday Bhaskar, director general of the Pharma Export Promotion Council, told ET. However, the local industry needs to focus on strengthening its active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) business in addition to manufacturing generic formulations to achieve this goal, he said. An API is that part of a drug that produces its therapeutic effects. India’s pharma exports grew 2.91% to $17.27 billion in 2017-18, according to the council. 

Several countries are considering policies to reduce their healthcare spending and pharmaceuticals contribute a “major share” of these expenses, according to Bhaskar. “If the governments are moving in that direction… they need to purchase generics from India,” he told ET in the run-up to the International Exhibition of Pharma and Healthcare in New Delhi this week. “The entire world is looking for alternative manufacturers of APIs as well as formulations.” This would be an opportunity for India to strengthen its API business, he said. “If (Indian pharma companies) focus on that, certainly (exports are) going to be more than $20 billion by 2020,” Bhaskar told ET. “This is a reasonable and practical figure.”

China is a major supplier of APIs globally, he said. At the same time, some Chinese formulation makers are showing increasing interest in importing APIs from India.“They wanted to have APIs from Indian companies which have a very strong international accreditation,” he said, adding that this was a significant development for India. India’s pharma exports to China increased 44% to $182.67 million in 2017-18, latest data from the council shows. A majority of these exports to China were APIs, said Bhaskar, adding that the increase in exports, though small, was because the country was upgrading some of its manufacturing facilities. Bhaskar added that he was “optimistic” about the growth in India’s pharma exports for 2018-19 due to “positive trends” in regions such as Latin America and the Commonwealth of Independent States. “These factors are going to help us.” India’s pharma exports to the US and North America, which contribute to over 30% of the country’s outbound shipments, dropped in 2017-18, said Bhaskar. 

The value of exports to the US fell 8.35% to $5,114.70 million due to factors like price erosion and consolidation and cartelisation of major drug distributors in the region, which has given them “tremendous negotiating power to bargain,” he said. 

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