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Indian pharma exports set to grow in 2019

The Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has projected over 10 per cent growth in pharma exports from India during this fiscal at or over $19 billion.
India is one of the top pharmaceuticals producing nation, which exports to over 180 countries. Pharmaceutical companies from India had been exporting drugs to regulated markets such as the US and Europe for several years now. Almost 35-40 per cent of the India’s exports go to the US alone. The Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has projected over 10 per cent growth in pharma exports from India during this fiscal at or over $19 billion.

The country’s exports stood at $17.27 billion during 2017-18, registering a growth of 2.92 per cent over exports of $16.78 billion recorded in 2016-17. In 2016-17, India saw a decline of 0.65 per cent compared to $16.89 billion registered during 2015-16.

Pharmexcil director general Ravi Uday Bhaskar told Telangana Today, “The US accounts for almost 35 per cent of India’s exports, followed by Europe with 15 per cent and 17 per cent to Africa. More than 65 per cent of the exports are to these top three markets.”

In terms of therapeutic categories- cardiovascular, anti-diabetes, anti-cancer are the dominant drugs that India exports to the world.

During the April-November period of FY 2019, India’s pharmaceutical exports stood at $12.28 billion, registering a 10.86 per cent growth for the corresponding period of the previous year at $11.08 billion.

Uday Bhaskar informed, “We estimate that the FY 19 exports could cross $19 billion retaining the 10 per cent plus growth that has been achieved from April-November period. We have seen in the last fiscal that the last 3-4 months (December-March), exports grew faster. If that trend continues this fiscal, exports will be certainly over 10 per cent. The US exports which showed negative growth in FY 18 by 8 per cent is showing positive signs this year with over 13 per cent growth in the April-November period of FY 19, while Africa and Europe continue to exhibit steady growth, which gives indication that the overall exports for the fiscal will remain healthy.”

Geographic patterns
“We see that CIS (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine) is reviving. India is focusing on Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, China, Japan and other emerging ASEAN nations,” he added.

India has strong presence in the formulations space with the segment accounting for about 75 per cent of the overall exports basket, followed by bulk drugs and intermediates accounting for 20 per cent, ayush and herbals contributing 3 per cent and surgicals at 2 per cent.

For the nation, the North America (US), South Africa, UK, Russia, Nigeria, Germany and Brazil are some of the top individual markets for exports every year. In the FY 18, India’s exports to the US stood at $5.11 billion, accounting for 29.62 per cent, followed by South Africa at about $583 million contributing 3.37 per cent and UK at $556 million accounting for 3.22 per cent.

China is the third largest pharmaceuticals market in the world after the US and Japan. The country’s growth is tipped to reach $145-175 billion by 2022 from $122.6 billion in 2017.

“India exports bulk drugs and generic formulations to China. There is a growing need for oncology drugs in China. Every year, 30 million cancer patients are getting added in China. There is a huge potential for Indian companies to supply anti-cancer drugs to this market. China has set a zero duty. Indian cancer drug companies are keen to serve the market and they are finding out the specific needs,” he added.

He noted, Bangladesh which had been a key market for India is making efforts towards self-reliance. Many domestic companies are scaling up their operations and are going for the USFDA approvals. Its time India revisits its exports strategy to this market.

Overseas policies
When asked if there are any policy changes that are impacting India’s export opportunities, he said, “Many countries are now talking about self-reliance. We are seeing changing stance in government procurement. Russia earlier used to consider medicines repackaged in Russia as the products manufactured in Russia. There was price preference given to Russian companies in tender process. Now, even if the bid of an Indian company is lower than the Russian company, unless the company is located in Russia, an Indian company will not win the bid. Vietnam for instance is seeking European Union certified companies to be located in Europe. Ukraine is changing compliance approach. China is restricting norms on the supply of vaccines,” he added.

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