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Guest contributor Frederic Kahn discusses the state of the Indian pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.
India has taken to calling itself the “pharmacy of the world.” That distinction came about after India’s heroic contribution to the global fight against Covid-19, when it shipped 65 million vaccines to 100 other countries and provided medical equipment and medicines to 150 countries. The pandemic highlighted India’s impressive capacity for making vaccines, generic drugs, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), and other essentials — but the maturation of this industry started much earlier.
The FDA noted back in 2019 that of all the plants registered to supply the US with APIs, 18% were in India compared to 13% in China. India’s pharmaceutical industry picked up steam following China’s environmental crackdowns of 2017. And it gained even more momentum during the pandemic when India proved more resilient to supply chain disruptions than elsewhere.
All signs suggest this upward trajectory will continue. India’s government recently pledged $1.3 billion to promote domestic drug production. Meanwhile, shakeups in the global pharmaceutical supply chain are making it look less appealing to have production limited to China. It seems that India has everything it needs — supply and demand — to become a global leader in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
So I was eager to see the world’s pharmacy for myself.
I recently visited three cities in India and met with 12 of our customers there. It was a whirlwind trip of meetings, tours, facility visits, and no shortage of amazing food. It was also an eye-opening experience for someone like me who has been following the ascendance of India’s pharma sector with great interest for many years. I learned a lot, I was impressed and surprised by much of what I discovered, and I came away with some big impressions about what India means for the future of global pharmaceutical production. Here’s a few that I think will evolve in interesting and important ways in coming years.
The future of pharmaceuticals has arrived early, though some might say it was overdue. For insight into what this future looks like — and how to get ahead of it — I would encourage anyone to take a closer look at what’s happening in India right now.
Frédéric Kahn is Generic APIs Commercial Head at Seqens.