Commerce Minister to take up issue with Russian counterpart tomorrow

India will press Russia to speed up the registration process of pharmaceutical products, a move that is expected to help generics manufacturers gain a better foothold into Moscow’s market for imported drugs.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is expected to meet his Russian counterpart tomorrow and Friday, will make a case for lowering the entry barriers so that high-quality, low-priced drugs from India gets easier access to its market, a Commerce Department official told Business Line.

Russia’s registration process for pharmaceutical products is both time-consuming as well as expensive. It normally takes 12-24 months, and costs at least $200,000 per product, a sum that small Indian drug makers find prohibitive.

As a result, India’s pharmaceutical export to Russia — at Rs 1,961 crore in 2010-11 — account for just 3 per cent of that country’s total drug imports.

“Since we are one of the largest producers of cheap, high-quality generics, and supply to many developed countries, including the US and EU nations, there is no reason why we cannot supply larger quantities to Russia,” the official said.

The Minister is expected to prod Russian authorities to expedite the signing of a draft MoU for fast-tracking the registration process .

Joint ventures

In his meetings with Minister for Industry and Trade Denis V. Manturov, and Minister for Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev in Moscow and St. Petersburg on Thursday and Friday , respectively, Sharma is also likely to focus on possible joint ventures between pharmaceutical companies.

“Russia wants to produce at least 50 per cent of the drugs it consumes, up from the present 20 per cent under its 2020 Programme. Indian producers can contribute to this by getting into joint ventures,” the official said.

The Minister is expected to participate in the India-Russia Forum on Trade and Investment in St. Petersburg.

Russian authorities have yet to provide data related to the volume of production of 57 strategically-identified medicines by India last year. This is expected to help the country assess the viability of technical capacities for exporting to Russia.

amiti.sen@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 17, 2013)
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