The Israel-Iran stand-off is keeping the pharma industry on edge, given the impact it could have on the price of raw materials, export of finished goods and the welfare of employees in these regions, if the crisis escalates, say industry veterans.

The industry is concerned, as an escalation would impact oil prices, with a cascading effect on raw material and packaging costs, for example, Sudarshan Jain, with the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, (IPA), told businessline. The IPA represents large domestic drugmakers who export to major markets and have employees across the world.

Sun Pharma subsidiary, Israeli drugmaker Taro, for example, has centres and facilities in the US, Canada and Israel. Last November, after the Israel-Hamas conflict first broke out (October 7th), Sun top-management had said that the company was focussed on “ensuring employee safety and maintaining business continuity”.

Israel and Iran may not be major markets for the pharma industry, but the concern is also on employee safety and other follow-up measures that may need to be taken, said Jain, besides the overall impact oil prices would have on global supplies and logistics. Healthcare and medicines are usually spared in a conflict situation and if sanctions are imposed, industry-observers said, since everyone needed medicines.

Pharma exports

While it may be too early to assess the direction and impact of this crisis situation, Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council’s Director General, R Uday Bhaskar points out that India’s exports have seen a steady uptrend through the Red Sea crisis and Russia-Ukraine war , for example. India’s total pharma exports are pegged at $ 27.8 billion for the year ended March 2024, reflecting a 9.6 percent growth, he said. Companies export to UAE and that business is about $ 350 million, he said.

In the domestic market, the Centre had recently allowed drug makers a marginal price increase, in line with the change in WPI (Wholesale Price Index) at 0.00551 per cent. Against the backdrop of the local pricing environment, industry representatives said, the uncertainty and impact arising from global challenges wouldadd to the pressure on their financial performance.