COVID-19 has confirmed India’s status as a global pharmaceutical manufacturer

In the ever-increasing demand for pharmaceutical solutions and products globally, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has certainly emerged as an important contributor. During the COVID-19 pandemic, India has been at the forefront with a huge export volume of medicines and medical equipment to different countries to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, which included exports of more of 65 million vaccines worldwide.

India continues to play a key role in producing various critical, high quality and affordable medicines for domestic and global markets. India meets 50-60% of the global demand for different vaccines including ARVs. Almost 40% of generic drugs consumed in the US and 25% of all drugs dispensed in the UK are supplied from India.

India accounts for 60% of global vaccine production, contributing 40-70% of WHO’s demand for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) and BCG (bacille Calmette-Guérin) vaccines, and 90% of the WHO demand for measles vaccines. vaccine.

With low-cost skilled labor and a strong domestic production base, India is gradually emerging as a global base for pharmaceutical manufacturing. The Indian pharmaceutical industry has benefited from measures taken by the government, such as changes in industrial policy, patent law and investments in local capacity development. Indian pharmaceuticals held only 5% of the market in India, while foreign pharmaceutical companies held 95% in 1947.

However, fast forwarding to 2020, domestic companies held almost 85% of the pharmaceutical market. By regulating prices through a “Drug Price Control Order” and encouraging the manufacture of generic drugs, the government paved the way for the growth of public and private enterprises. It was changes to India’s Patent Act of 1970 that led to a booming generic drug industry in India, valued at $33 billion in 2017.

India joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the 1990s and had to sign the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. Although this has created some challenges for the industry, India has continued to leverage its advantages and manufacture life-saving and affordable medicines, vaccines and diagnostics, earning it the aptly nickname of pharmacy. of the world.

The Indian pharmaceutical industry also benefits from research, innovation and manufacturing. An Indian company was the first to develop new processes for making a hepatitis B vaccine and cut prices to less than $1 per dose. After WHO prequalification, low-cost mass vaccination was made possible globally through organizations such as UNICEF.

In 2002, an Indian pharmaceutical company partnered with MVP (Meningitis Vaccine Project) in 2002 and successfully manufactured and licensed MenAfriVac (an affordable meningitis A conjugate vaccine for Africa) in 2010, the first qualified vaccine at the international level that has been developed outside of the large multinational. pharmaceutical companies.

In another notable achievement, an Indian pharmaceutical company became the first in the world to launch a clinically proven typhoid fever conjugate vaccine and received WHO prequalification. In 2015, an Indian pharmaceutical company launched ROTAVAC, the world’s cheapest rotavirus vaccine at $1 a dose.

While the government has launched several initiatives to boost the advancement of research and development in the pharmaceutical sector, more innovations are needed to become the global pharmaceutical leader. It is crucial to create an inclusive environment for industry experts, academics and other stakeholders to have a common platform for the advancement of R&D in the pharmaceutical sector.

(The author is CEO, Entod Pharmaceuticals)

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