“India moved ahead of China in all important markets such as US, European Union and Africa,” the ministry said, adding that India’s exports of pharma products to US grew 23.4 per cent to USD 4.74 billion from USD 3.84 billion. At the same time, China’s exports to the US during the same period grew only 15 per cent to USD 1.34 billion from USD 1.16 billion, the ministry added.
According to the ministry, India’s pharma exports to the EU and Africa were also greater than China’s in 2015. While India exported USD 1.5 billion and USD 3.04 billion-worth of pharmaceutical products to the EU and African markets respectively, China’s exports to the same markets showed a declining trend, the ministry’s official statement said.
Though rise in export figures of pharma products is praiseworthy, but the worrying factor is that India is heavily dependent on countries like China for the raw material — active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) — which is a worrying factor on the part of India.
These raw materials are used in manufacturing pharma products which are being exported to unregulated markets like Africa, Fiji, etc. Also, India is dependent on Chinese raw materials for pharma products sold within the country to because of price control and strong competition between drug makers catering to the Indian market.
Commenting on the pharma export figures, Chhattisgarh Finance Commission member Ashok Parakh said, “No doubt the figures are laudable. It will bring foreign exchange to the country, but will it really help in bringing down the prices of all life saving medicines as patients are putting their whole earnings on the stake to buy costly drugs.”
“The government has a reason to enjoy, but at the same they have to brainstorm over fulfilling their promises of providing affordable healthcare services to every citizen of the country.
It can be only achieved by encouraging pharma majors to manufacture substantial raw materials used for drugs manufacturing in the country only,” Parakh said, adding that India is particularly dependent on imports from China for the manufacture of 12 important medicines, including paracetamol and amoxicillin as at present Indian pharma companies in the manufacture of medicines importing 80 per cent of raw materials from China.