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NEW DELHI : In what will add heft to India’s credentials as ‘pharmacy of the world’, Saudi Arabia has reached out to the Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA) to help achieve drug security for the Gulf nation. The move bears significance as Saudi Arabia is traditionally a major energy supplier to India.

The request to the IDMA was made by the Saudi Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA) with a list of over 300 lifesaving medicines that are currently not available in the Kingdom.

“Saudi Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is inviting Indian Drugs & Pharmaceuticals manufacturers to participate in achieving drug security in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There are a number of pharmaceutical products that are not present in the Kingdom despite the local market’s requirement for them," said Daara Patel, Secretary General, IDMA to member companies in a letter seen by Mint. “This is for the first time we have received such request from the Gulf nation. Now, we have shared the list of the pharma items to our member companies However, Saudi FDA have not shared the quantity of these items; how much they want. So, I have written to them to let us know the quantity of each product," Patel said in an interview.

Queries sent to Saudi high commision and SFDA spokesperson remained unanswered. Saudi Arabia had a market size of $7.8 billion in 2021 for pharmaceuticals which includes patented drugs of about $4.13 billion, generics at $2.87 billion and Over-The-Counter (OTC) drugs of $780 million.

“In FY21, India’s export was around $103.52 million while in FY22, the exports stood at $104.58 million. The share of generic drugs were low compared to the patent medicines in Saudi Arabia market," said Lakshmi Prasanna, director-regulatory affairs at Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council of India.

“And we see our export performance good because covid pandemic definitely boosted India’s export not just to the conventional market but also to the new markets which started recognizing our products due to non-availability and price related concerns. In the current, financial year from April to October, the exports stand at $83 million with 75% growth rate," she said.

Last month, a delegation from SFDA visited India and a meeting was hosted by Pharmexcil with Indian drug makers.

“So, the delegation’s visit was mainly to invite the Indian industry to set up some manufacturing units there. Besides, this, the Gulf nation has some shortage of medicines and wanted to invite Indian players for the purpose and explained support or incentives they offer to the Indian drug makers in terms of registration of products, fast-track mode of approvals for the required drug. Because of limited internal resources for manufacture of products, they are willing to meet the requirement from Indian institutions," Prasanna said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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