Parks to Make Bulk Drugs in the Works

The Economic Times - - Economy - Kir­tika.Suneja@ times­

New Delhi: The govern­ment is plan­ning to set up bulk drugs man­u­fac­tur­ing hubs as part of strat­egy to re­duce the country’s de­pen­dence on Chi­nese in­puts for its ex­ports-in­ten­sive phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in­dus­try.

In­dia meets about 85% of its bulk drugs’ re­quire­ment with im­ports from China. The landed price of bulk drugs from China is 15-20% lower than the cost of pro­duc­ing them lo­cally, a fac­tor that has fanned im­ports.

A se­nior of­fi­cial told ET the govern­ment is con­sid­er­ing es­tab­lish­ing three or four pharma parks for man­u­fac­tur­ing ac­tive phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­gre­di­ents (API). “Due to the China fac­tor we need to strengthen our self­de­pen­dence on es­sen­tial medicines… cor­re­spon­dence with the PMO (Prime Min­is­ter's Of­fice) is go­ing on,” the of­fi­cial said, re­quest­ing anonymity.

Each man­u­fac­tur­ing park is es­ti­mated to cost about .₹ 200 crore, he said, adding that Andhra Pradesh and Te­lan­gana are in­ter­ested in of­fer­ing land for the pur­pose. The govern­ment had launched a sim­i­lar scheme in 2007 — called Petroleum, Chem­i­cals and Petro­chem­i­cal In­vest­ment Re­gions — with the aim of de­vel­op­ing ded­i­cated in­te­grated chem­i­cal clus­ters in coastal states. Although the scheme proved to be a non­starter, this time ef­forts are be­ing made with rigour as the PMO has been keep­ing a keen watch on the mat­ter. “API im­ports from China are some­times of poor qual­ity and spu­ri­ous, due to which for­mu­la­tion qual­ity gets af­fected. To en­sure qual­ity in­gre­di­ents, we must have our own man­u­fac­tur­ing,” said an­other of­fi­cial.

In­dia im­ported APIs worth $3.9 bil­lion in 2014-15, of which drugs worth $3.3 bil­lion came from China. In 200405, API im­ports stood at $800 mil­lion.

“If China snaps sup­ply of APIs, then our na­tional health­care pro­grammes will suf­fer. Also, China’s dom­i­nance in the mar­ket can lead to price in­creases of many es­sen­tial drugs,” said Ajay Sa­hai, di­rec­tor gen­eral of FIEO .

How­ever, the plan to set up API parks faces one ma­jor hur­dle — clear­ance from the en­vi­ron­ment min­istry since APIs are highly pol­lut­ing.

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