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"On the Roadmap Towards Enhancing the Indian Pharmaceutical Industry"
Currently, India is facing the threat only from China with regards to the API market.

Indian pharmaceutical industry is currently the core attraction worldwide with regards to generics, APIs and biotech drugs, but is also not far from facing tough competition from its rival counterpart China. Manish Doshi, Managing Director, Amoli Organics; and President of Indian Drug Manufacturer’s Association (IDMA), talks about the current scenario of the Indian pharmaceutical industry and the various initiatives of IDMA to support its growth.

Kindly tell us about the performance of the company during the past few years.
Amoli Organics has been doing well. Last year, we grew by 25 per cent. The company is widely and well distributed amongst most of the markets. We have been exporting to more than 80 countries including US and Europe, alongwith Asian, African and Latin American countries.

You have shifted from APIs and intermediates to contract research and custom synthesis. How did the shift happen?
We have not shifted in any big way. It was an initiative that we have taken and it is yielding results.

There are a lot of unmet needs in India. What is the level of research going on in pharmaceutical industry in India to meet these unmet needs?
Unfortunately, not much is happening on the original research front to meet the unmet needs. There are other graver needs, which we are unable to meet. For example, there are a lot of tropical diseases, which are no more in the advanced countries, like malaria, tuberculosis, Kala-azar, Encephalitis, and several others. So, global MNCs are not expected to do research in such areas, as these diseases are absent in developed countries. So, these are the areas where India should be currently focusing on.

Could you throw some light on the research pursued by the Indian pharmaceutical companies for areas like malaria and tuberculosis?
Pharmaceutical companies as well as Government Labs are conducting research. But there are other important factors to be taken into consideration such as prevention and precaution. Malaria can be cured, but unless we take care of sanitation and thereby, mosquitoes, it will keep perpetuating itself. Similarly, tuberculosis, which is an air borne disease, can also be cured. But High density populated areas like in India, make it more challenging to get rid of the disease from the entire society or country. Development of Resistance to known drugs is causing major challenge. Pharmaceutical companies can only come up with drugs, which may kill the microorganisms and cure the patient of the disease. But otherwise, it is the responsibility of the entire society including the government with respect to sanitation and hygiene.

What are the various issues IDMA is taking up for the growth and progress of the Indian pharmaceutical industry?
For the growth and progress of Indian pharmaceutical industry, we interact with the government to help them frame appropriate pharmaceutical policies. We also have several activities like technical and marketing seminars, news bulletins, etc within the organization of 700 members to increase competence levels.
Could you throw some light on the recently signed MoUs with Chinese and Korean pharmaceutical associations? They are well intended MoUs, but we have not made any great progress. In a scenario where we are competing, it is difficult to conduct exchange programmes.

How do you compare the Chinese and the Korean pharmaceutical industries with the Indian pharmaceutical industry?
In terms of engineering and chemistry, unfortunately the Chinese pharmaceutical industry fares better than the Indian pharmaceutical industry. But in terms of quality and regulatory standards, India is much better than China. Chinese pharmaceutical industry is quite cost competitive as they are quite efficient. In some way or the other, their government encourages them and provides them a lot of infrastructural support. The Chinese proved themselves to be competent and therefore, they are quite competitive.
Considering the Korean pharmaceutical industry, they are also doing well. But as an industry, they are not as big as the Indian or Chinese pharmaceutical industries. Recently, many Indian companies have started entering the Japanese market.

What is driving them to get into the Japanese market?
Japan is a big country and a big pharmaceutical market. Indian generics have been doing well in US, Europe, and will continue to grow in these geographies. So, Japan is the next big target. So far, Japan was a patent product market, but now, it is also realising the importance of generics.

What are your views on the pricing of drugs in the wake of Bayer-Natco compulsory licensing issue?
As a country, we respect patents. But not only India, even a lot of third world countries would want to have access to affordable medication. Most multinational companies (MNCs) follow differential pricing methodology. They sell a particular product in a particular country based on the purchasing power of the consumer there. Even if these MNCs would price their product appropriately, they will get much larger business in terms of volume.
But if they try to price it as they have priced it in an advanced country, they will face opposition for such exorbitant prices. Also, a large amount of population in advanced countries is covered by insurance. But things have gone to such a bad extent that the healthcare costs are so high that even the insurance is now unaffordable. So, then somewhere somebody will have to draw a line.

What is the stance of IDMA on the current pricing policy?
IDMA has made representation and recommendations to the government requesting them to keep a balance between the consumers' interests and industry’s survival and growth.
We have also been requesting the government to consider market based price control instead of cost based price control, as it is not a very productive and effective mechanism. We have requested the government to encourage R & D, exports and the API industry, which is at the core of the formulation industry.

Currently, what are the major challenges for the API industry?
Unfortunately, the Chinese APIs are very competitive in terms of price. So, making the APIs as efficiently and competitively as them is the biggest challenge for the Indian API industry. Currently, India is facing the threat only from China with regards to the API market.

What are the initiatives that IDMA is taking to promote SMEs in pharmaceutical sector?
The technical and other seminars, which IDMA conducts, can help the SMEs for upgrading their skills and enhancing their knowledge. Apart from that, while making any representation to the government, we see to it that the interest of SMEs is well protected. We also participate in a few international exhibitions where we give exposure to our SME members. We work in close co-operation with Pharmexcil also.

What are the key global trends that are driving the growth of pharmaceutical industry?
Due to enormous pressure of rising healthcare costs, generics are growing very well worldwide. Biotech drugs are expected to take a bigger market share. Even diagnostics are the upcoming and booming trend, which will soon gain a bigger pie of the healthcare market. Essentially, both, production of generics and Contract Research and Manufacturing Services (CRAMS) will grow in India.