India taking several steps to reduce dependence on imports of API

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India is taking several steps to reduce its dependence on imports of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), a commonly used raw material for drugs, by manufacturing it within the country.


Domestic drug manufacturers, which mostly import APIs from China, has seen a sharp spike in the prices of these raw materials after the Chinese government shut down many API producing plants owing to environmental concerns. This had prompted pharmaceutical lobby group to demand for hike in prices of medicines that are currently under the price control.


“We want to promote API production in India under the Make in India' initiative. Many foreign investors have shown interest in setting up such facilities,” said Sadananda Gowda, Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers.


The minister, who inaugurated the fourth international conference on pharmaceuticals and medical devices-‘India Pharma 2019 & India Medical Devices 2019’, also said already such plants had come up in Assam and Andhra Pradesh.


Gowda also said that the government was trying to provide affordable healthcare to every citizen under the National Health Protection Scheme. “Currently, around 800 generic medicines are under price control. This shows our intention to provide affordable healthcare to every citizen under the National Health Protection Scheme," Gowda said.


Under the universal health coverage scheme 'Ayushman Bharat', the government is planning to provide medicines at a cheaper rate to beneficiaries. As part this, Gowda said, a central warehousing facility for generic drugs would be opened in Karnataka to provide generic medicines to patients at a lower cost under the Pradhan Mantri Janaaushadhi scheme.


However, the minister defended government's move of setting up a committee in NITI Aayog that will recommend medicines for price control, raising concerns over the dilution of the prime role of National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) in fixing drug prices.


 "We have never intervened in the functioning of autonomous organisations. So, the fear is misplaced," he said.


The minister also said many affirmative policy actions by the government had helped the domestic pharmaceutical industry to come back on growth track after facing many headwinds in 2017. Currently, domestic pharmaceutical industry is valued at over $34 billion with half of the earnings coming from exports. India is also one of the leading producers of generic drugs in the world.


With growth coming back, the industry hopes to clock a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 per cent in the coming years, the minister added. 

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