Millennium Post

MNCs’ buy-out spree of Indian pharma cos raises worries

Concerned over the spate of acquisitions of domestic pharmaceutical firms by multinational corporations (MNCs), the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) will soon send a comprehensive proposal to the PMO for review of the current policy for FDI in existing drug companies. Before sending the proposal, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma will meet both the Health and Pharmaceutical minister to discuss the matter.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has raised concerns over large number of acquisitions of domestic firms by foreign multi-nationals. It has asked the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) not to take decision on any related proposal.
'The DIPP will soon send a comprehensive proposal to the PMO. On an average, about 25 per cent of the FIPB agenda is related with pharma sector. Pharma related proposals are regular feature in the FIPB meetings,' sources said.

They said continuing acquisitions of Indian pharma firms by foreign companies would pose serious problems in availability of life saving drugs to consumers in near future.

Recently, Shantha Biotechnics, that has pioneered in the Hepatitis-B vaccine, was acquired by French pharma company Sanofi-aventis
Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA) has suggested that the foreign firms acquiring domestic companies should be asked to invest in the manufacturing facilities. Although, a committee has put some conventionalities for acquisition of Indian companies, sources said: 'those are fairly lenient'.

About four applications for investments in drug firms have been pending for discussion in the FIPB. The proposals included two related to US-based Mylan Laboratories; Japan- based Terumo, and another of Medreich, a domestic firm.FDI policy in the sector has already been discussed at the PM level in December last year. Accordingly, all foreign investments in existing domestic pharma firms was allowed only after clearance by the FIPB.

Currently, India permits 100 per cent FDI in pharmaceutical sector through automatic approval route in the new projects but the foreign investment in the existing pharmaceutical companies were allowed only through FIPB's approval.In 2008, Japanese firm Daiichi Sankyo had bought out the country's largest drug maker Ranbaxy for $4.6 billion.US-based Abbot Laboratories had acquired Piramal Health Care's domestic business for $3.7 billion.
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