Chinese cheer for Indian cancer-drug manufacturers

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on September 18, 2019 Published on September 18, 2019

Dragon nation allows patients to import drugs that are not registered with its regulator

New norms for drug imports announced by the Chinese government are expected to benefit Indian pharma companies in the oncology segment.

“From December, China will be allowing cancer patients to import drugs which are not registered with Chinese regulators,’’ R Uday Bhaskar, Director, Pharmaceutical Exports Promotion Council (Pharmaexcil), an arm of the Ministry of Commerce, told BusinessLine.

China has been witnessing a rapid increase in the incidence of cancer with an annual addition of about 10 lakh patients, the official said. According to industry estimates, the cancer drug market in China is expected to grow to $25-27 billion over the next five years.

How it helps

With patients having direct access to imports , the outcome “is going to be very good for Indian pharma, which is known for quality as well as affordability,’’ Uday Bhaskar added. Indian drug makers will also get some relief from the hassles of registration. The Chinese regulator charges a whopping $80,000 for registration of products which is ‘expensive’ by Indian standards. In India, leading oncology generic drug makers have also been stepping up their focus on the Chinese market. For instance, Natco Pharma Ltd, according to its Vice- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Rajiv Nannapaneni, “is working with Mylan’’ on Copaxone for the Chinese market and “will come up with a strategy very soon”.

The efforts of pharma majors like Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, which are increasingly tapping the potential for biosimilar drugs to treat cancer, could also bear fruit going forward.

About half a dozen biosimilar products of Dr. Reddy’s are being sold in India and in various emerging markets. The company also has “an active development pipeline of several biosimilar products in the oncology and immunology space,’’ it said recently.

India’s drug exports to China have been growing steadily in recent years. In 2018-19, they increased 14.3 per cent to $230 million compared with the previous financial year. In the first quarter of the current financial year, the growth surged by 37 per cent, Pharmexcil data show.

“The prospects for the India pharma industry lie in China and Japan where we need step up focus significantly,’’ said Uday Bhaskar.

Published on September 18, 2019
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