Due to the shutdown in China, Indian companies are ramping up the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Experts mentioned that the Indian government has aggressively begun implementing a policy to ramp up local output and emerge as an alternative to China.
The Indian government is planning to escalate domestic production of pharmaceutical ingredients to counteract a perceived over-reliance on Chinese imports now hampered by COVID-19 shutdowns, Bloomberg reported.
India has identified and prioritized the production of 53 raw materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) as part of its "China-plus-one" policy to fill in supply gaps of affordable medicines, sources told the outlet. The plan includes investing $1.3 billion in domestic pharmaceutical producers and potentially reviving state-run companies to ramp up cheap generic production.
India is the single largest manufacturer of generic drugs in the world. But with the lockdown in China, India was unable to produce and export many drugs. Then this triggered raw material shortages and exposed its dependence on Chinese imports. All these things triggered India to gear up and start producing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) in India.
According to Bloomberg, 70% of India's imports of APIs come from China, totaling $2.4 billion of India's $3.56 billion in import spending for those products each year.
In early March, India stopped exports of 26 APIs and drugs that range from paracetamol––the ingredient in Tylenol––to antivirals like acyclovir for treating shingles and antibiotic neomycin. India is reportedly upping the production of paracetamol and antibiotics penicillin and ciprofloxacin.
“Indian bulk drug manufacturers could grow income by $3.3 billion if they expand capacity and global supply as the virus outbreak disrupts China’s pharma sector,” Mia He and Jamie Maarten, analysts with Bloomberg Intelligence wrote in a March 16 note.
Of the 373 drugs listed under India’s national essential medicines list, some 200 are imported as APIs, mostly from China, Dinesh Dua, chairman of Pharmexcil, an export promotion council under the trade ministry, said Blomberg.