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India set to emerge as pharmacy of the world: IDMA

The world is buying medicines from India and it will only increase, going forward, says IDMA’s Daara B Patel

Daara B Patel, Secretary General, Indian Drug Manufacturers Association
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Daara B Patel, Secretary General, Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association

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Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association (IDMA) has traversed a long way over the last 60 years to become what it is today and at the same time to take the Indian pharma industry where it is today. IDMA seems to well set to emerge as the 'global pharmacy', rising to the occasion and supplying quality drugs at competitive prices to the world. Speaking to Bizz Buzz exclusively, Daara B Patel, Secretary General, Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association (IDMA), who is spearheading the organisation's journey and activities through the challenging times, outlines organisation's plans in its diamond jubilee year and beyond and the way forward for the Indian pharma industry

In the Budget 2021-22, the Finance Minister announced an outlay of Rs 1.97 lakh crore to be utilised over 5 years for the PLI schemes in 13 key sectors. The thrust to reinforce India as the "pharmacy of the world" is evident from the PLI schemes for this sector. (PLI) schemes are a cornerstone of the government's push for achieving an Atmanirbhar Bharat. The objective is to make India's domestic manufacturing globally competitive and to create global champions in manufacturing

Exports from Ukraine aren't an important issue for the small people in medicine, not an alarming situation for India. When it comes to Russia, India's export volume is big, nearly $600 million. There is a stoppage in transport, no container available, people have reasons to be worried about. We don't know when all will be normal but the demand for medicine won't go down, for sure

How are you planning to celebrate this diamond jubilee celebration for your organisation including that of the global conclave, which you have planned?

See, the theme for the diamond jubilee year of IDMA is "Indian pharma – global healthcare". Unfortunately, we had to postpone our celebration and the global conclave, thanks to the possibility of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is now happening on April 14 and 15 in Mumbai. Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare and Chemicals & Fertilizers has confirmed to be the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony on April 14 and Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles has confirmed to be the chief guest at the valedictory ceremony on April 15. Dr Gnanvatsal Swami Ji will deliver a spiritual address on April 15. We have industry stalwarts who have confirmed their presence for various panel discussion scheduled over the two days, such as Dilip Shanghvi (Sun Pharmaceutical Industries), Satish Reddy (Dr Reddy's Laboratories), Amit Varma (Quadria Capital), Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Dhaval Shah (PharmEasy), KV Subramaniam (Reliance Life Sciences), Dr Satyanarayana Chava (Laurus Labs Ltd), Premchand Godha (IPCA Laboratories) and Rajeev Nanapanenni (Natco Pharma), among others. Bain & Co is our 'knowledge partner' for this event.

The Association has come a long way and many milestones have been achieved in the last 60 Years and specially the last two years which have been different, difficult and trying times. The active participation & interaction with the virtual who's who of the Pharmaceutical Industry as well as Ministry Officials and Bureaucrats, from the Centre as well as States, will not only add value to the pharma business but also ensure that the flag of our association continues to fly higher in the Global Pharmaceutical Industry.

The pandemic has changed the way industry across verticals had been operating. It's more true with Pharma industry. So what are most perceptible changes that pharmaceutical industry had to bring in?

During Covid-19 pandemic, IDMA Secretariat has played an important role in facilitating uninterrupted supply of quality medicines with excellent coordination between the industry, government, regulators and other associations. In March 2020, the production utilisation was hardly about 18-20 per cent and because of all these initiatives undertaken by us and working closely with the government, All Indian Origin Chemists & Distributors Ltd (AIOCD), with the transporters and regulators, we were able to scale up to 80 per cent in two months. Eventually it went up to 100 per cent and there was no looking back since then. During the pandemic or in the current scenario when the intensity and severity of situation are much lesser, the momentum is the same, the regulators have been burning the midnight oil and approving medicines and vaccines on a war footing. The stakeholders, regulators, government, pharmaceutical manufacturers, packaging material manufacturers, the API suppliers - all are together as a team now and the common goal is patient centricity. The AIOCD was used to keep the chemist's shop open so that the goods could be delivered and stored. We also told the suppliers not to panic buy.

I read somewhere and you just mentioned and described India as the global pharmacy. What did you actually mean by that?

The Indian government announced a production-linked incentive (PLI 1.0) scheme on 21 July, 2020, aimed at boosting India's bulk drug security. This covered identified active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs)/key starting materials /drug intermediates. The financial outlay for the said PLI scheme was Rs 6,940 crore. In the Budget 2021-22, the Finance Minister announced an outlay of Rs 1.97 lakh crore to be utilised over 5 years for the PLI schemes in 13 key sectors. The thrust to reinforce India as the "pharmacy of the world" is evident from the PLI schemes for this sector. (PLI) schemes are a cornerstone of the government's push for achieving an Atmanirbhar Bharat. The objective is to make India's domestic manufacturing globally competitive and to create global champions in manufacturing.

At this outset, Indian pharma industry navigated the challenges of the pandemic so well. The country's pharma industry got together to showcase instances of preparedness, rapid response and took proactive measures to prove that India is the pharmacy of the world. I say this emphatically because the whole world has started buying medicines from India and it will only increase, going forward.

How has the ongoing Russia-Ukraine armed conflict impacted Indian pharma industry?

One has to keep in mind that we do not export much to Ukraine. Ukraine exports are around $180 million. Even that amount is not coming now, as at present everything is at a standstill, no transport, no ships sailing, with the war going on. Exports from Ukraine aren't an important issue for the small people in medicine, not an alarming situation for India. When it comes to Russia, India's export volume is big, nearly $600 million. There is a stoppage in transport, no container available, people have reasons to be worried about. We don't know when all will be normal but the demand for medicine won't go down, for sure.

But I think it's a temporary disruption. Interestingly, we are not a competitive country and are not joining hands with other countries which are supporting Ukraine. So sanctions are already there for Russia from various countries. Talking about the overall economy, buying power all will be affected, payments will also be delayed. But we have to face it, after all, it's a business risk, everyone has to take. It should be reconfirmed at the earliest because we need to supply medicines for export purposes and at the same time medicines are required by people to take care of their health. We all hope that India and Russia will work out some solution at the earliest.

Safe disposal of unused and post expiry drugs have been an issue for years. What are your thoughts on that?

Mind you that IDMA has already issued a guideline to all the members on the safe disposal of unused, expired or rejected drugs. All the members have been informed to keep the products separate once they expire and also to call back the stockists who will withdraw the expired, rejected drugs from the retailers, these drugs should not be sold in the market, by any means. They should be destroyed through a proper procedure like in the presence of the FDA, inspector or someone from the drug circle or CDSCO.

Ritwik Mukherjee
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