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Indian pharmaceutical industry strives for self-reliance in post-COVID world

COVID world

The world is embracing change and taking proactive measures to successfully navigate through the pandemic. For the Indian pharmaceutical sector, the manufacturers have an opportunity to understand existing shortcomings in the drug supply chains and take robust actions to become truly self-sufficient.

In terms of volume, India is the third-largest pharmaceutical market globally with exports standing at $19 billion in 2018-19. The country has an immense potential to become the “Pharmacy of the World” with its low-price high-volume factor. However, the sector is also vulnerable due to its high dependability on raw material imports which caused disruption and problems amid the pandemic.

Right now, the country imports 90% of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), two-third of which comes from China. Post pandemic, this non-availability of raw material and API can pose a threat to India’s internal drug security and strong export ambitions.

Also read: Innovation in pharmaceutical supply chain

Below are some factors that will help the Indian pharmaceutical industry become self-sufficient in the post-pandemic world –

Localise supply networks

India’s road to Self-Sufficiency will run through as a series of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who will localise and mobilise raw material requirements in the country. They will serve as an integral part of the supply chain network as vendor partners and find innovative solutions to source APIs and raw materials. These solutions can be further refined and implemented globally on a much bigger scale by the government or large manufacturers.

Hence, providing impetus to domestic manufacturers will usher new possibilities and bring them to the forefront of the global pharmaceuticals market.

Bolster Production Lines

Further dwelling into the low-price, high volume factor, the country has some of the lowest drug prices in the world. This serves as an imperative factor in making Indian pharmaceutical industry self-sufficient and grows as a global supplier.

India should scale its production lines with government-induced support, free movement of resources across states, adding support to ancillary suppliers and more. The country also has the largest number of USFDA-approved plants in the world who is known to have a top-notch standard of quality regulation. With this, India will have both quality and quantity by its side.

The bold step will involve the manufacturing of APIs and primary sourcing back to the Indian grounds. The government’s decision of domestic manufacturing of KSMs is the first of many steps required to become truly self-reliant.

Expanding Research –

With many new molecules under clinical trial by domestic manufacturers, the Indian pharma industry is globally respected when it comes to Research and Development. However, a new system of cost-effective R&D is much needed in the country.

With extensive research going into COVID-19 vaccine, India has an opportunity to implement streamlined accelerated regulatory and testing cycles for all drugs. Increased R&D will further give the long-needed push to the industry in becoming an end-to-end global drug manufacturer status.

(The author is Dr Atish H. Rodge, MD & Founder, Allmpus Laboratories Private limited. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)

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