Over dependence on drug imports from China harmful for India: IPCA

Over dependence on drug imports from China harmful for India: IPCA
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New Delhi: An overwhelming dependence on drug imports and related raw materials from China could prove harmful for the health sector in India in the long run, the Indian Pharmaceutical Congress Association (IPCA) has said.

According to the IPCA, over 75 percent of India’s bulk drug imports come from China. That, according to the IPCA, means that India sources around 80 per cent of pharma raw materials to meet growing requirements of drug formulations for Indian pharmaceutical industry. This has emerged as a cause of concern for the industry, policy makers and pharmaceutical professionals of India.

“India has proven capabilities in the generic drug formulations, but over dependence on China for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from our Asian neighbour does not augur well for the Indian pharmaceutical sector, as any interruption in supply can badly impact the sector and jeopardise the health of millions of people across the country” observed Dr. Shailendra Saraf, Chairman of the Organising Committee, Indian Pharmaceutical Congress (IPC 2017).

India has emerged as a key supplier of generic and affordable medicine for the world market, its overwhelming dependence on China for crucial raw materials, such as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and intermediates, to the extent of over 75 per cent of the requirement, has emerged as a main worrying area, according to the Association of of Pharmacy Teachers of India (APTI) and Indian Pharmaceutical Congress Association (IPCA).

APIs and intermediates are key raw materials to manufacture pharmaceutical formulations such as tablets, capsules, syrups, etc. Rapid growth in new medical technologies is spurring the demand for generic drugs worldwide with the increased import of raw pharma ingredients from the emerging markets.

Against this background, pharma industry and the policy makers have also raised concerns over India’s rising dependence on imports from China for many APIs that go into the making of a number of essential drugs.

Dr. Saraf, who is also the Vice President of the Pharmacy Council of India, further said,”Indian pharmaceutical companies depend on China-supplied APIs only its low cost and not for any technological reason. Secondly, India has a price control mechanism in place. Since there is a control on the end product price, Indian manufacturers are unable to match the API prices offered by Chinese supplier.”

Though the government has taken steps like withdrawal of exemption in customs duties, imports worth Rs 13,853 crore in 2015-16 or 65.29 per cent of the total imports of Rs 21,216 crore are not sustainable. “Over-dependence on China for APIs is likely to affect the bulk drug manufacturing sector, and subsequently have an impact on our population in plausible scenarios of drug shortages brought down by interrupted imports from single source country,” said Dr. Dhirender Kaushik, the Organising Secretary of the 69th Indian Pharmaceutical Congress, adding that over-dependence on such a crucial raw material on a single country is also not advisable from India’s overall strategic interests as well.

The Indian Pharmaceutical Congress is a national annual event of pharmacist from all walks of pharmacy profession to deliberate various issues relating to industry, regulatory, academia, hospital and community pharmacy and to evolve collective wisdom for formulating newer policies for the country in the relevant fields and for the betterment of mankind.

The 69th IPC will be held at Chitkara University, Chandigarh, from December 22 to 24, 2017 and will be hosted by the Association of Pharmaceuticals Teachers of India.

The theme “Skill and will to make and serve the quality pill” envisages how a pharmacist can play a leading role in the country to promote and realize the vision of Healthy India as well as stimulate discussions and thought process centered around how the country and the pharmacy profession respond to realize the vision.

Dr. Saraf said, “We hope that it will interest the budding pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists working in research and development and the practicing pharmacist. 69th Indian Pharmaceutical Congress 2017 will take a holistic approach to empower professionally skilled pharmacists to produce quality medicines and care.”

More than 8000 delegates from India and abroad are expected to participate in the Congress making it a mega event for the pharmaceutical industry.

IPCA President Dr. M D Burande explained that “the theme of the 69th IPC is an extension of the earlier IPC theme “Pharma Vision2020-Pharmacists for a Healthy India” with a punch line ‘Skill and Will to Make and Serve Quality Pill’.

This will provide Congress to identify Skill areas in Pharmacy Profession and to prepare for the future to develop competent pharmacists to take care of the challenges of manufacturing quality medicines and serve the patients with ultimate pharmaceutical care. Such pharmacy skills will narrow the gap between academics and industry to achieve the objective of world class quality of medicines to make India Truly Pharma Super Power in serving humanity.” (ANI)