Trump win might mean opportunities for Indian pharma

Donald Trump

Donald Trump's election as the US president will create opportunities for Indian generic drug makers, say pharmaceutical sector experts.

While they and industry chief executives believe pricing pressure will continue in the US, the president-elect's proposal to lift entry barriers for safe, reliable and cheaper products bodes well for Indian companies, they said.

As a part of his seven point health care agenda, Trump had said this would allow consumers access to better drugs made abroad.

"I expect Donald Trump will remove restrictions on drug imports. This will benefit India," said Kewal Handa, Director of Salus Lifecare.

"Trump's election will bring will bring new opportunities for Indian companies," said D G Shah, secretary-general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance.

The BSE exchange's healthcare index gained 1.5 per cent on Wednesday. The stocks of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and Dr Reddy's Laboratories rose by four to five per cent.

India contributes to nearly a third of all drugs sold in the US and this is unlikely to change for now, given the thrust of both Democratic and Republican parties on affordable health care.

"The presidential election results are, thus, not likely to have a substantial impact on our pharmaceutical industry. India is expected to remain a preferred source of safe, effective and affordable medicines to millions in the US," said Utkarsh Palnitkar, national head (life sciences) at consultancy KPMG.

The US market will, however, continue to see pricing pressure as a result of consolidation of hospitals and insurance companies.

"Whatever prices there are because of demand and supply and gaps and imbalances. I do not think the pricing environment will change because of the type of government. Structural factors will determine it...right now, there are some investigations the US department of justice has launched...they would play in the usual course," said Umang Vohra, chief executive, Cipla.

"It is too early to comment on the new administration's priorities regarding health care," said a spokesperson of British drug maker AstraZeneca.

However there could be some concern for Indian companies in the medium term. Trump's election plank focused on protection of jobs. Handa believes in the medium to long term, Trump could take steps to protect local generic drug makers.

However, Shah also clarifies that "Indian drug makers are not only exporters but also investors in the US", referring to recent acquisitions by top Indian companies in the sector.

The stock market was anticipating a Clinton victory would be a negative for pharma companies, in the wake of her statements against abnormal price increases and her proposal to end tax concessions to drug makers.

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