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Can India reduce Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients imports from China?

At a panel discussion organised by School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Apeejay Stya University, eminent leaders from the pharma sector highlighted crucial industry trends and taught undergraduate pharmacy students about entrepreneurship



India is the largest provider of generic drugs globally. The Indian pharmaceutical sector supplies over 50% of global demand for various vaccines, 40% of generic demand in the US and 25% of all medicine in the UK. Globally, India ranks 3rd in terms of pharmaceutical production by volume and 14th by value. As a result of the given market circumstances, the pharmaceutical sector holds huge entrepreneurial opportunities for Pharmacy students. To inspire budding pharmacists, a panel Discussion on “Entrepreneurship in Pharma Sector” was organised by School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Apeejay Stya University (ASU) in collaboration with Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA).

At the inaugural address, Dr. Anupama Diwan, Dean, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ASU said, “Dear students, time has come for you to raise the level of R&D and deliver new products. You have to come up with the latest medical technologies in personalised medicine, 3D printing and other treatments. For this, you have to enhance your skills and knowledge. If you have to do B.Pharm, M.Pharm and Phd for it, please do it. Don’t go for small gains. Don’t have the mindset that ‘I have done B-pharma and now I can join any sector and work in Data Analysis.”

“We want you to become future entrepreneurs. We see future Dr Parvinder Singh (Ranbaxy), Dilip Shanghvi (Sun Pharmaceuticals) and Prafulla Chandra Ray (the father of chemical science in India) in you.  When you have courage everything is possible,” she added.

Dr. Diwan said all difficulties can be overcomed. She gave the example of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray, who put his meagre savings — all of Rs 700 — into starting India’s first pharmaceutical company in 1892 called Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. 

Dr. Hari Natarajan, Founder and Managing Director, Pronto Consult, stated thedomestic pharmaceutical market is expected to grow 3x in the next decade. “India’s domestic pharmaceutical market is estimated at $ 42 billion in 2021 and likely to reach $ 65 billion by 2024 and further expand to reach $120-130 billion by 2030.”

He talked about growing digitalisation in the pharmaceutical industry and said that the pharmaceutical track and trace system, a logistical technology that enables the tracking and localisation of a drug throughout the supply chain, will gain prominence in the coming years.

Dr. Natarajansaid government incentives will help Indian pharma companies reduce API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) imports from China. India imports 70 per cent of the total APIs from China, particularly vitamins and antibiotics. For the uninitiated, API is a chemical compound that is the most important raw material to produce a finished medicine. It produces the intended effects to cure the disease. “We are hugely dependent on China for API. I would say API is a thorn in the Indian generic market.”

He said, “An entrepreneur should remain always ambitious and understand the market and the needs of consumers.”

On the question of how much capital needed to start a pharmaceutical company in India, Shankar Mehadia, Promoter Director, Micropack Logistics, Pvt Ltd explained, “It’s very subjective, if you don’t include the cost of land, you will need Rs 1.5 to Rs 2 crore to start a small pharma manufacturing unit. A budding entrepreneur can seek credit from CGTMSE (Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises) scheme. You can get a Rs 2 crore loan without any collateral.” The CGTMSE is jointly set up by the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME), Government of India and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to catalyse flow of institutional credit to Micro & Small Enterprises (MSEs).

Whereas Analesh Desai, Director, VivaTest Research and Development Pvt Ltd commented there is no substitute for hard work and perseverance. “Nothing comes easily. One has to work hard. Another trait that is vital for an entrepreneur is perseverance. Also, you should have faith in whatever decisions you make. It will take some time, but you will eventually reach your goal if you believe in yourself. Luck too plays a critical role in success.”  

Dr. Shrikant N. Parikh, CEO and Cofounder at A3 RMT Pvt. Ltd said, “Indian entrepreneurs can make niche interventions using digital technologies such as Analytics, Algorithms, Simulation, Data Analysis, and Bioinformatics. This doesn’t need too much investment.”

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]