Hyderabad: Indian pharma firms are eyeing opportunities in the Egyptian market, estimated to be worth $2 billion (Rs8,000 crore), after a new initiative to ramp up trade between the two countries and the African nation’s move to streamline its drug regulation process in line with global norms.
Egypt’s offer for an industrial zone for Indian firms is another reason for the renewed interest in that country. Facilities in Egypt can potentially help Indian firms to supply products to the market there as well as those in Europe, Africa and West Asia at a lower cost.
Egyptian minister for trade and industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid, who led a trade delegation to India last week, made the offer on the industrial zone.
According to the Egyptian government, that country imported pharmaceutical products worth $525 million in 2006. Nearly 90% of that was from Europe, while India contributed less than 10%.
The Indian Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil), set up by the ministry of commerce and industry to promote pharma exports, finds this an opportunity. “Following our alert to the members, there has been a robust response and we are in the process of compiling a list of pharmaceutical companies that are certified by European authorities or the USFDA (US food and drug administration) and forwarding the same to the department of chemicals, which will give this to its Egyptian counterpart,” said Pharmexcil executive director P.V. Appaji.
The Egyptian government proposes to provide its drug manufacturers with this list so that they can source raw materials from Indian companies.
Egypt’s move to comply with intellectual property rights under the World Trade Organization has reduced the role of local bulk manufacturers of copycat versions of patented drugs that used to meet more than 90% of Egypt’s drug requirements prior to 2005.
Egypt is not a new territory to Indian pharma players. Firms such as Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd and Neuland Laboratories Ltd already have a presence there, primarily supplying ingredients to Egyptian firms that have sales rights.
After the visit of the Egyptian delegation, nearly 20 exporters, including Chandigarh-based Ind-Swift Laboratories Ltd, Chennai-based Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Ahmedabad’s Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Hyderabad-headquartered Suven Life Sciences Ltd and Neuland have expressed interest in promoting their products there. Some Indian pharma companies have already initiated talks on scaling up their operations by setting up manufacturing facilities in Egypt.
“This is a good opportunity as the Egyptian pharma market is growing at a healthy rate of 8-9%,” Appaji said. While this is the overall market growth rate, Indian pharma companies are talking of 20-25% growth in the market for products that they deal in.
“We are looking at the possibility of opening a marketing office in Egypt in the near future to fully exploit the potential that the market offers,” Neuland’s vice-president (corporate planning and development) Saharsh Rao said.