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BW Businessworld

Government Tells Exporters To Hunt For New Pharma Export Destinations

Pharmaceutical exports, otherwise, were tagged as the next big thing for India post the successful stint of country’s IT industry. In the last financial year, India's pharma exports, including bulk drugs, were down 4.7 per cent y-o-y, and the sector's net sales grew at its slowest in about a decade

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With drying market for copy-cat drugs, the government is looking for ways to shore up exports. The tried and tested formula is to hunt for new markets amid innovating complex generics for country’s largest drug export market, United States.  

The government has asked Indian exporters of pharma products to shift their focus towards smaller, emerging yet unexplored markets. “Nirmala Sitharaman, minister of commerce and industry has told the ministry’s export regulation bodies to tell exporters to re-look diversification plans into young markets,” a senior commerce ministry official told BW Businessworld. “India’s next target is Myanmar, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Turkey, and Venezuela,” the official said.  “Myanmar has approached Indian market and opportunity looks very promising as it wants to purchase generic drugs for its government hospitals,” he said.

Myanmar’s proposal to buy generic drugs has attracted interest from around 60 Indian companies. Pharmaceutical exports to Myanmar during April-February is estimated at $162 million, while exports to the country in 2015-16 was $152 million.

According to the latest data by Pharmaceutical Exports Promotion Council (Pharmexcil), drug export arm which is under the ministry of commerce and industry, pharmaceutical exports decreased marginally to an estimated $16.4 billion during the financial year ended March 31, 2017. “There was no growth in pharma exports during 2016-17 compared to exports worth $16.89 billion during 2015-16," Uday Bhaskar, director-general said.


The reason he has offered is known. “The reasons for the lack of growth in exports were price erosion and absence of blockbuster drugs, among others, for Indian pharma players,” he added.
Pharmaceutical exports, otherwise, were tagged as the next big thing for India post the successful stint of country’s information technology (IT) industry. In the financial year 2017, IT services exports, at $160 billion, were nearly 10 times those of drugs and pharma and equivalent to nearly 60 per cent of the country's merchandise (goods) exports, as per the industry estimates.


In the last financial year, India's pharma exports, including bulk drugs, were down 4.7 per cent y-o-y, and the sector's net sales grew at its slowest in about a decade.
During 2016-17, total pharmaceutical exports from India, including bulk drugs, were $16 billion, down 4.7 per cent y-o-y. It accounted for 5.8 per cent of India's total merchandise exports, down from 6.4 per cent in FY16.


All this shows in the financial performance of listed pharma companies, facing rough weather after nearly a decade of high double-digit growth. Looking for new, better avenues is the need of the hour.