Led by formulations & biologicals, pharma exports increase 7.2% in Q1

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on July 31, 2020 Published on July 31, 2020

Shipping of bulk drugs, APIs down

Tiding over Covid-19 blues, pharmaceutical exports rose 7.2 per cent at $5,412 million in the first quarter ended June 30, against $5,050 million in the previous-year period.

“This is a very positive development as a substantial period of the first quarter was under lockdown with many logistic hassles,” R Uday Bhaskar, Director-General, Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Concil (Pharmexcil), told BusinessLine on Friday.

Also, unlike previous years, when bulk drugs and intermediaries (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients, or APIs) contributed to export growth, the first quarter saw an 8.4 per cent fall in API exports due to the ‘China factor’.

“Earlier, APIs were exported by using raw materials imported from China. But, now, its appears that they are retaining APIs for domestic use,” Bhaskar said.

The pharma sector export growth was driven by drug formulations and biologicals, which grew 15.1 per cent at $4,139 million. About 38 per cent went to North America, followed by Africa (16 per cent) and the EU (14.8 per cent).


An analysis of the data for three months (April-June) reveals how India’s pharma exports surged despite the many challenges. While exports had fallen by 0.84 per cent in May, growth came back as previous orders fructified and exports almost stabilised at 7.26 per cent in June.

This should be a welcome development as, because of the lockdown, Q4 FY20 had also seen a negative growth of 3 per cent, but for which the overall growth for the full year would have been around 11 per cent. Pharma exports increased 7.57 per cent for FY20, hitting $20.58 billion.

The pharma industry, it appears, has been able to adapt to the challenges in India and abroad as seen in the composition of the exports in the last three months.

Covid impact

The pandemic is an ‘opportunity’ for Indian pharma. “In the first quarter growth, Covid drugs might not have had a great positive push because in value terms they are not high. However, I see an opportunity on the vaccine development front,” said Bhaskar.

The strategies put in place by companies, too, came in useful. When asked on the net impact of Covid on his company and industry in the first quarter, Erez Israeli, CEO, Dr Reddy’s Lab, said: “It was to deal with a new normal, working remotely, addressing the issues of logistics and buyers around the world.”

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Published on July 31, 2020
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