If China is India's 'pain' then also 'medicine', where will India bring 'medicine'?

Posted on 24th Jun 2020 12:54 pm by rohit kumar

Do you have to take medicine for diseases like diabetes, blood pressure, thyroid, or arthritis?


After the increase in cholesterol of a person you know, the doctor has given him a course of medicine for a few weeks because it is not good for the heart.


Many of you must have eaten some medicine with paracetamol during cold, cough, or fever. If the viral or infection is prolonged, the doctor may have given you an antibiotic course.


Someone in your home, bribe, neighborhood, or office may have been diagnosed with cancer and chemotherapy has been used in their treatment.


If anyone is yes, then it is more than likely that India's neighbor China is also a major contributor in many of these medicines.


India-China dispute


This investigation is happening because these two neighbors who have a deep business relationship with each other are under unexpected tension these days.


For the past several weeks, the tensions between the two countries in the Ladakh region - the Line of Actual Control (LAC) - have escalated and after-hours' fighting and clashes between Indian-China troops in the Galvan Valley, 20 Indian soldiers were killed and 76 were killed. Others were injured.


So far no official statement has come from China on the casualties or the injured.


The matter also became hot because, after 45 years, an Indian soldier was killed by an army of another country on LAC.


With the condemnation of the incident in India, the demand for boycott and ban of goods imported from China started increasing, whereas the Central Government has not yet spoken about any such decision.


India's railway and telecom ministries have hinted at stopping some imports in the future.


Meanwhile, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has also released a list of over 500 Chinese products to be boycotted.


There were also protests in many cities of India boycotting Chinese goods.


Chinese medicine in India

Trade between India and China has increased by 30 times in the last two decades. That is, where the total trade in 2001 was three billion dollars, by 2019, it was touching 90 billion dollars.


Among the things which have increased rapidly in this trade include medicines. Especially during the last decade when the import of medicines registered a jump of 28%.


Statistics from the Indian Ministry of Commerce show that during 2019-20, India imported pharma products worth Rs 1,150 crore from China, while the total imports from China to India were around Rs 15,000 crore.


When it comes to medicines, India is at the top in making and exporting generic medicines. In the year 2019, India sold generic medicines from 201 countries and earned billions of rupees.


But even today India relies on China to manufacture these drugs and import active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from China for the production of medicines. It is known as the raw material for making medicines or bulk drugs.


Industry experts say that up to 70% of the total bulk drugs or raw materials imported for making drugs in India come from China.


"We should accept the fact that without importing from China, we have to accept the fact," says Dr. Jayman Vasa, author of the book "Competitive Studies: Lessons from China" on China's export strategy and chairman of the Gujarat Pharma Association. "


He told, "Until the Government of India does not create more and more pharma parks or zones, it is difficult to match China because their research is very solid. It will take us many years to reach this level."


The fact is that API production in India is very less and some of the items are imported from China to make the final product of the API that is made in India.


That is, Indian companies also depend on China for API or bulk drug production.


According to SG Belapur, an adviser to the International Pharma Alliance and former manufacturing head of Zydus Cadila Drug Company, "The main reason for importing bulk drugs (APIs) from China is low prices. Bulk drugs from there cost 30 more than other countries. Is 35% less (this includes India) and India is more dependent on China for antibiotics or cancer treatment drugs ".


So raw materials for diabetes, blood pressure, thyroid, arthritis, viral infections or a variety of surgical tools and medical machines, the list of Pharma products imported from China to India is long.


According to experts, 80% of bulk drugs or raw materials used in the production of antibiotics like penicillin and azithromycin in India are imported from China.


Role of electricity

Dr. Anurag Hitkari, a frequent expert from drug manufacturers in China and an expert in drug research manufacturing, says, "The main reason for the import of bulk drugs or raw materials from China is to keep the prices of the medicine competitive."


He said, "Electricity is a major contributor to the production of APIs or bulk drugs. Until recently, the price of electricity in China was much lower than in India, which reduced the entire cost. Secondly, in the pharmaceutical industry of China "We are involved with the continuous research in universities, which is considered to be the backbone of making medicine. He is adept at using it for production as soon as any new research is done."

There are some Chinese provinces such as Zhejiang, Guangdong, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Hebei, Ningxia, Harbin, from which India imports bulk drugs.


Dr. Anurag told, "This raw material is brought to India from these provinces through the ports of Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong".


The question of 'cheap bulk drugs' and their quality coming from China, SG Belapur, former manufacturing head of Zydus Cadila Drug Company said, "Earlier there was no problem but now Indian buyers have to take special care of this Who are the vendors ".


According to him, "Sometimes the quality of raw materials can be very poor if we do not take precautions."


It is not that due to tension on the border, the demand for reducing dependence on things imported from China is arising in India for the first time.


In 2017 too, tensions on the border spread after a good scuffle between the soldiers of the two countries in Doklam. Even then, there was talk of imposing such a ban on China.


Similar voices were also heard from India's pharma industry, stating that active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) need to bring self-reliance to the country, but statistics indicate that there was no reduction in imports.


In 2019, when reports of coronavirus infection and then lockdown started coming from China's Wuhan province, there was a stir in the Indian pharma sector as it was not possible to produce generic drugs without importing bulk drugs or raw materials.


Dr. Jayman Vasa, President of the Gujarat Pharma Association, has a clear opinion, "It would not be wrong if I say that the challenge of Covid-19 is a big opportunity for the Indian Pharma sector in difficult times. In the case of medicines, we have to work dependence on China And for this, the government's help is also necessary. "


A question also arises that if India takes a long time to become self-dependent on bulk drugs, then by then there are other options apart from China?


SG Belapur, an advisor to the International Pharma Alliance, believes, "If India is to reduce imports from China in the field of medicine, it will have to import from Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and some South American countries. Now because they are expensive The price of medicines will also increase. "


After all, while talking about the past and future of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in India, drug research manufacturing expert Dr. Anurag Hitkari said, "Pollution clearance in India had to be taken at many levels including the state, central government, environment. Everyone had to go to the ministry ".


He further added, "Small and small scale industries, which are thinking of making raw materials or bulk drugs, kept avoiding this complicated process. Now things are getting better as necessary modifications have been made in the process of taking pollution clearance".

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