Costly active pharma ingredients from China create healthcare hurdles in India
A steep 50 per cent rise in the prices of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) has raised doubts on the shortage of essential drugs required to treat the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This has led to a shortage of equipment, including small- and large-scale bioreactors and fermenters, according to a recent report. The report, titled Pharma Industry: Trends and Prospects, noted that there was a longer waiting period for critical equipment.
Nearly 70 per cent of the country’s APIs are imported from China; this dependence is around 90 per cent for certain life-saving antibiotics such as cephalosporins, azithromycin and penicillin. The report also highlighted gaps in diagnostic services in India, especially in rural India, which caused anxieties among the population regarding procuring medicines, arranging COVID-19 tests and treatment.
It called to enhance expenditure on the healthcare system in India: The overall spending on health varied from 1.3 per cent of the gross domestic product in 2010-11 to 1.5 per cent and 1.8 per cent of the GDP (revised estimates) for 2019-20 and for 2020-21 (budget estimates) respectively. It urged states to make digital technology accessible in rural areas as it can serve as “a catalytic element of the transformation” of the healthcare scenario in India.
“The success stories in diverse parts of India, viz, Rajasthan, Arunachal Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, and Maharashtra need to be replicated at the wider national level to bring about perceptible improvement in the rural healthcare system.” The report showed some hope, too: The pharmaceuticals industry grew 37 per cent year-on-year and 15 per cent sequentially in the first quarter of financial year 2021-22. The growth was driven by sales of COVID-19 treatment drugs and other drugs.
It said: “The cost of manufacturing in India is approximately 33 per cent lower than that of the United States. Therefore, the industry can benefit from these attributes and accordingly scale up production, productivity and efficiency. But the realization of this potential necessitates harnessing economies of scale to move to a newer and higher orbit.”
It also recommended that the industry explore new and innovative options to generate and sustain new revenue streams.
Source – DownToEarth