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Pharma Industry Upbeat in India

India’s drug and pharmaceutical industry is predicted to grow around 13 percent in the current year, reaching $24 billion. Sun Pharmaceuticals, a key player in the industry, recorded revenues of $880 million in the last year, and expects sales to grow around 20 percent in the current year. India exported $8.3 billion in pharma drugs and services in 2008-9, up 25 percent from the previous year. India’s leading customer for exported drugs is the United States.

A Bigger Role
India’s drug industry was previously infamous for manufacturing cheap copies of Western medications and marketing them in developing countries. But, of late, it is starting to play a bigger role in the global pharma industry. There are two reasons for this: one is India recently strengthened its patent laws. Second, drug makers in the industrialized countries are facing cost pressures, while drug manufacture is relatively cheaper in India.

Global Manufacturing Base
Thus, India is fast becoming a global base for drug making. Experts says the industrialized world’s drug giants will in the future focus more on drug discovery and sales. The bullishness on India is evident as global giants are making a beeline for the country. There have been a series of joint ventures and takeovers of Indian pharma firms.

Cheap Talent
Western experts opine that good talent is available at a cheaper rate in India. So, western companies are thinking about outsourcing manufacturing, packaging and formulation to India. The Indian economy is already famous for its call centers. Of late, the nation is moving up the value chain and manufacturing is becoming a strength, thanks to low prices and high-skill production capabilities.

Opportunity in R&D
Apart from manufacturing, there is also opportunity for the Indian pharma industry in doing research and development for global drug giants. Indian experts are confident that they can discover patent drugs at a lower cost than in the West. While it costs Western pharma companies about $1.5 billion to research and find a new drug, Indian companies aver they can do it for just one-tenth of that cost.

Drawbacks
However, quality control remains a problem. There have been a few instances of drug recalls due to defects and faults. Intellectual property is another issue. Dozens of patent suits are on between foreign and Indian companies in courts all over the world. Also, counterfeit medicines are a major problem in India.

FDA Approves
On the positive side, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is beginning to recognize India’s pharma potential. It has opened two offices in the country, to be staffed by technical experts and inspectors. In fact, the FDA has given 900 approvals to Indian factories to export raw materials or drugs to the U.S. Thus, when it comes to sophisticated drug-making, India stands poised to play a big role on the world scene.

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