Home / Economy / ‘Ukraine war didn’t have any major impact on pharma trade’

NEW DELHI : Director General of Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) Uday Bhaskar said that the Russia-Ukraine war did not have a significant impact on the pharma trade. He, however, expressed concern about Indian pharmaceutical exports losing ground in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a regional grouping of 10 post-Soviet republics. He added that the Indian pharmaceutical industry should focus on complex generics formulations, bio-pharmaceutical, new therapies and in development of APIs. In the absence of such a strategy, India will be left far behind in the race with other countries, such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam, who are active in the manufacturing of these complex formulations. He also added that India needs to focus on Latin America, ASEAN member nations and Africa to retain its edge in pharma exports. Edited excerpts:

How do you see the year 2022 in terms of pharma trade and exports?

In FY22, we exported approx. $24.62 billion throughout the world with 0.71 % growth. From April to November this year, we exported drugs and pharmaceutical items of approx. $16.59 billion, with a growth of about 4.36%. At the same time, in this FY22, the major achievement is that more than 51% of pharma exports are going to the US and Europe. So, to date, there has been no issues with pharma exports, and we have sustained India’s image as the “pharmacy of the world", and I think by the end of March, we are expecting the exports are going to be around $27 billion.

Do you think the Russia-Ukraine war impacted the global supply chain as well as India’s pharma trade?

The impact of the war on Indian pharma exports is not very much, but certainly, we are going to lose a few millions as far as our exports to CIS and Russia are concerned because Russia is in the top five exporting destinations of India. We are working very closely with regulatory agencies in Russia and discussing ways and means to collaborate not only in pharma items but also trade for veterinary medical products. The government is also working on the rupee-ruble issue. We are very much optimistic that by the end of this FY23, we are going to achieve better results than last year.

India has helped many countries during the pandemic.

During covid-19 pandemic India supplied covid medicines to most countries, and in addition to that development of covid-19 vaccines gave global attention to India. India supplied more than 281 million of covid vaccine doses to around 101 nations.

What is the way forward for the pharma industry in 2023?

The Indian pharmaceutical industry, as of now, won’t have any problems because India is the leader in generic formulations. But we can’t continue with the same system of “conventional generics". India needs to focus on complex generics, bio-pharmaceuticals, and all new therapies and, in addition to that, the development of APIs. Particularly, this PLI scheme is going to help to some extent to reduce our dependency, but we need to be very strong in developing fermentation technology. However, we face many challenges, particularly from countries like China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia, for multiple reasons. Besides this, India needs to work closely and focus on Latin America, the ASEAN region and the entire African region to retain our pharma exports. Hence, instead of being confined only to generic formulations, the industry needs to spend more money on innovation and research, invent new products and need to come up with complex molecules, biosimilar and device delivery drugs. Otherwise, we are going to be behind in the race.


Priyanka Sharma

Priyanka Shamra is a health and pharma journalist with nearly nine years of field reporting experience. She is a special correspondent with Mint. Her beat includes covering the Ministry of Health and Department of Pharmaceuticals. She also covers the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Department of Biotechnology.
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