China accounts for two-thirds of India’s bulk drug imports

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on June 21, 2020

India imports various bulk drugs/active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for producing medicines. About two-thirds of the total imports of bulk drugs and drug intermediates are from China. As calls for a boycott on Chinese goods and materials gains momentum, this statistic bears significance.

The Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers told the Lok Sabha in March that the Indian pharmaceutical industry is the third largest in the world by volume and 14th largest in terms of value.

According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Indian pharma industry has been growing consistently over the last few years. Pharma exports in FY19 were $19.13 billion, with a growth of 10.72 per cent over the previous year. During April 2019 - January 2020, the exports stood at $17.32 billion, registering a growth of 11.53 per cent over the corresponding period of the previous year.

India also imported bulk drugs and drug intermediates worth $3,560.35 in FY19, of which 67.56 per cent, or $2,405.42, came from China, according to the Chemicals Ministry. The government told the Rajya Sabha on March 13, “The imports from China are mainly due to economic considerations.”

Drug security

The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) has constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Eshwara Reddy, Joint Drugs Controller, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), to address the issue of drug security in the country in the context of the Covid-19 outbreak in China.

Based on the recommendations of the committee, the DoP has issued instructions to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) and State governments to ensure adequate supply of APIs and formulations at affordable prices in the market and to prevent black-marketing, illegal hoarding and creating artificial shortages in the country.

Also, the DoP has written to the DGFT, asking it to restrict exports of 13 APIs and formulations. The NPPA has also written to the chief secretaries of States, requesting them to closely monitor the production and availability of APIs and formulations to prevent black-marketing and hoarding.

Published on June 21, 2020

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