In such times of need, India’s pharmaceutical sector is banking on keeping its GDP afloat. The Indian pharmaceutical industry, being one of the largest globally, also ranks fourth in terms of volume. This industry is the highest supplier of generic drugs and has the largest number of USFDA verified plants.
In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, India’s pharma industry was estimated at $43 billion (US). It is fair to say that this industry is doing well despite the pandemic and will be one of the top ten pharma-based markets in the world in the coming years.
The pharma sector has shown tremendous growth in the last decade. From a meager 5% contribution to India’s market to 85% in today’s date. New avenues and opportunities opened up for this sector, with more funding for research and development and FDI inflows.
Some of the major pharma companies in Hyderabad and other metropolitan cities have helped increase the export of drugs within and out of the country, like Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, etc. The government is also taking up the building of mega bulk drug parks to boost further growth. As a result, India will soon be the major hub for end-to-end drug discovery.
Some major domestic pharma companies are Sun Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Reddy’s Labs, Divi’s Labs, Cipla, Abbott India, etc. FDI policies have helped India work with foreign investors directly and use their expertise to improve treatments in India. In February 2021, Telangana permitted Cytiva to improve the biopharma industry by opening fast-track labs.
For kidney treatment, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals launched generic oral capsules. Similarly to treat epilepsy, Brivaracetam was launched by Natco Pharma. The mark is not just being left in India but in the world alike. Russia, in February 2021, allowed Glenmark Pharmaceuticals to market its novel fixed-dose nasal sprays in Russia!
The pharmaceutical industry in India is an umbrella for smaller industries like biopharmaceuticals, bio-services, bio-agriculture, bioinformatics, etc. Luckily, there is a clear-cut distinction between pharmaceuticals and the bio-industry, which is unseen in most other countries. ‘Target Segments’ were introduced to set up more greenfield plants, increasing local manufacturing to be completed by 2030.
Punjab announced to establish three new pharma parks. A medical park is also proposed at Rajpura, Punjab. Under the Union Budget 2021, $5.1o billion was allocated for the National Health Mission, and the Department of Health Research was given $365.68 billion.
One major advantage that only India has over the world is cost-efficiency. The cost of labor and inventory is much cheaper than in other countries. When multinational companies invest in India, they save up to 50% of the expenses they incurred. If we compare with the United States, a research chemist in India is five times less expensive. Similarly, the cost of manufacturing products is also almost half. Performing clinical trials is one-tenth and going into research and performing it also one-eighth. All these make India a desirable market for investment in pharmaceuticals as well as research and development.
Earlier, about 70% of raw materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients were imported from China. To reduce this dependency on imported products, the government in March 2020 announced a 14,000 crores boost for domestic production on APIs and various other medical devices.
This was following the ‘Atma-nirbhar Andolan.’ This, in turn, boosted the industry. From raw materials to production to supply, each part of the process became an increasingly local phenomenon. The increase in its contribution to GDP and expected 5% growth every year is evident of the pharmaceutical company’s role in the economy of India. However, there is still room for improvement.
In a post-crisis world, more emphasis should be given to an improved architecture for storage and infrastructure. Digital media should be used for the marketing of drugs and medicines. Their availability should be increased even to the rural areas. There is an expected 9.12% growth in medical expenditure.
To match international standards and ensure people stay fit and healthy, Indian pharma companies must bring down the cost of chronic therapies like cardiovascular, antidiabetic, antidepressants, and anti-cancer. Approximately $200 billion is estimated to be spent on medical infrastructure in the country. There should also be more emphasis on rural health programs, lifesaving medicines, and vaccination drives.
Streamlined pharmaceutical manufacturing through initiatives and the speedy introduction of generic drugs into the pharma market should be the main focus. The states’ movement of material across states and support in terms of packaging materials and solvents should be provided by the states to ensure streamlined logistics of pharmaceutical materials.
Such policies should be enforced effectively as most of the delay in the timely availability of medicines and drugs is due to transport and logistics. Pharma companies should also ensure the transport of generic drugs to even inaccessible parts of India. In addition, more contact-based pharmaceutical companies should be hired to increase the quality of products.
Targeted financial incentives should also be introduced by the Government to help increase production. Greater production of APIs, diagnostic kits, and other medical devices should be achieved as the entire process of successful production depends critically on these raw materials. This will make the pharmaceutical industry self-reliant and create further employment opportunities for the people of our country. In addition, more Key Starting Material (KSM) plants should be introduced regarding the demand for APIs. If this continues, the pharma company India’s economy will be one of the driving forces in India’s vision to achieve a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25.
The pharmaceutical industry is definitely the backbone of our economy. It also has an ever-increasing global reach with a net foreign exchange of $10 billion. This is, without doubt, the right time for the government and stakeholders to invest in the pharmaceutical industry.
However, we require some well-thought plans to create opportunities in this sector. A faster, effective, and more affordable process of drug availability is required. Digitalization of the industry and adequate education for the same should be made available for the frontline workers. Soon, the pharmaceutical industry will live up to its name and become the ‘Pharmacy to the World’!