In order to bring up a more dynamic manufacturing sector for pharmaceutical products in the state, the Kerala Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (KPMA) has urged the state government to frame suitable industrial policies and provide maximum support to the pharma sector so as to encourage more entrepreneurs to invest in the sector in the state.
Although there are more than enough skilled manpower, favourable environment for industrial growth and a vibrant local market, lack of support from the government retards the growth of pharma sector in Kerala. This forces the government to depend on other states for all kinds of pharmaceutical products, consequently making the state as a market for north Indian companies. According to industry estimates, Kerala consumes almost 10% of the medicines sold in the country despite being just 3% of national population.
The volume of medicines that the pharmaceutical industry in Kerala manufactures is less than 1% of the huge local consumption. The local pharma industrial sector has shrunk in number of players from a high of almost 70 units in 1990s to only around 20 currently, and many of which are facing risk of closure. The association wants the government to take urgent steps to support the existing units and to attract more players into the field.
“Since there is high rate of consumption of pharma products in Kerala and the medicine business is a lucrative one here, all multinational companies and the Indian giants are eying Kerala as a profitable market. Besides, there are a lot of marketing companies which get their products manufactured in tax-free states in north India and flood the market with their attractively packed products, though the quality of which are not being monitored properly. This trend is increasing and it becomes a threat to the small scale units in Kerala,” said Purushothaman Namboothiri, president of KPMA.
While speaking to Pharmabiz, he said there are so many other issues in the industry. DPCO is becoming an obstacle to the growth of SSI units as many commonly used products are being brought under the price control. Secondly, the imposition of GMP under revised Schedule M and GLP (Good Laboratory Practices) without much financial support from the government has led to financial crisis for small scale manufacturers. Again, the government is going ahead with raising the bar again by making GMP norms mandatory as prescribed by WHO. So, if the SSI units in the state to continue, government of Kerala should find out some strategies for the survival of the industry here.
Unless the industrial units are not provided resources for modernisation, the pharma sector in Kerala cannot compete with those big companies from other states, and ultimately they will fail to contribute for the healthcare system due to sickness which will result in eventual closure.
If sufficient financial support is given to the units for research & development for innovation and for technology up-gradation & automation, Kerala will become self-sufficient in pharmaceutical consumption with their own formulations, claims KPMA. For this, the government must have policies to make pharma sector as a thrust area.
Published on: September 20, 2017