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USA’s anti-free trade tricks hit Indian pharma exports

India's pharmaceutical exports registered the slowest growth in at least 15 years of 1.2 per cent to $14.84 billion last fiscal amid growing tension with the US over intellectual property rights- related issues. As the IPR issues raised by the US — India's biggest market — are unlikely to be resolved any time soon, industry observers said in a government strategy paper that pharma exports will miss the target of $25 billion set for 2014-15.

Commerce Ministry data show that in 2012-13, the country's pharma exports aggregated $14.66 billion. The growth registered in 2013-14 is the slowest in nearly 15 years. The previous slowest was in 2009-10 when the pharma exports grew by just 5.9 per cent. In calendar year 2000, they grew by 7 per cent. ‘2013-14 has seen slowdown in growth because of the US raising concerns and due to increase in global competition,’ said
Pharmexcil Executive Director P V Appaji .

Elaborating on the hurdles faced by Indian companies, an official said, ‘US industry is alleging that India's IPR laws, particularly with regard to the pharma sector discriminate against US firms. They are putting pressure on their government to take action against India.’
The USA is the top destination for Indian pharma exports, followed by the United Kingdom. America accounts for 25 per cent of India's pharma exports. The Obama administration has been strongly criticising India's investment climate and IPR laws, especially in the pharmaceuticals sectors.

US pharma companies had objected to India's move to issue a compulsory license in March, 2012 to Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma to manufacture and sell Bayer's cancer-treatment drug 'Nexavar' at a cheaper price. Compounding the problems for Indian pharma firms, Vietnam too has raised concerns over medicines imported from India. An industry official stated that ‘if Vietnam were to ban imports from India, It will further impact our exports’.

Appaji, however, said, ‘DCGI is looking into concerns raised by Vietnam over quality defects in drugs supplied from various countries, including India which is a major supplier to the country.’  Despite the challenges, he said, ‘India has been able to make its name as a quality supplier of affordable medicines across the globe. We are expecting around 12 per cent growth this fiscal.’
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