The Pharmaceutical Industry of India witnessed an unprecedented growth in the year in which the world was suffering from Coronavirus. The effective and low-cost Indian medicines and vaccines saved the lives of a large number of people around the world. And, this is the reason behind the fact that in a year in which the global pharmaceutical industry declined by 1-2 per cent, the pharmaceutical exports of India grew by 18.7 per cent.
“We have observed a big leap in our exports in the month of March 2021 which is USD 2.3 billion (figures for March are provisional) and is highest among the exports of all the months of this financial year, the growth rate for this month is 48.5 per cent against the exports in March 2020 (USD 1.54 billion),” Udaya Bhaskar, Director General of Pharmexcil, a body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said in a release.
In FY 21, the total pharmaceutical export was 24.4 billion dollars compared to 20.58 billion dollars in the last year – when the growth was in single digit at 7.57 per cent. North America emerged as the biggest purchaser accounting for 34 per cent of the total exports with exports to Justin Trudeau led Canada surging by 30 per cent.
In the next few years, the Indian pharmaceutical industry is expected to continue registering double digit growth given the surge in global demand for India produced generic medicines. Moreover, the increased focus and spending of the government on public health shall keep the domestic demand also high.
“We are expecting a big growth in vaccine exports in coming years. The government’s PLI [production linked incentive] scheme will also help Indian pharma to grow by reducing import dependence, he said. With most of the countries looking at India for pharmaceuticals, the export potential is bound to increase in days ahead,” added Bhasker.
The Indian pharmaceutical industry has the potential to replace the IT industry as the largest export sector and contribute billions of dollars to India’s foreign exchange reserves every year.
As of 2019, the industry has an annual revenue of around 1.3 lakh crore rupees or 33 billion US dollars but by 2025, it is expected to reach 100 billion dollars, thanks to double digits growth in the coming years. The largest players are Dilip Shanghvi led Sun Pharmaceutical, Lupin Limited of Desh Bandhu Gupta, Dr Reddy laboratories of Kallam Anji Reddy, Cipla, Aurobindo Pharma, Piramal Enterprise, Glenmark Pharmaceutical, Torrent, Biocon and Serum Institute. Many Indian billionaires made their fortunes in the pharmaceutical sector, and it is arguably the largest sector in terms of the number of billionaires after the Information Technology-BPM sector.
India is one of the largest exporters of pharmaceuticals. The industry grew at double-digit in the last decade except for the last one or two years, when the growth slowed due to regulations put by the government and other disruptive reforms. However, during the Covid year, the demand for Indian medicines like Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and indigenously developed/produced vaccines raised exponentially. The industry is again set for double digit growth for the next few years.
Earlier, Bachelor of Engineering was considered very prestigious while Bachelor of Pharmacy was not a force to reckon with, as the majority of the people took them as someone being trained to work for retail drug shops. But, in the coming years, India would become a go-to country for pharmaceuticals just like Information Technology.