Medicine : India’s dependence on API
Published: December 21, 2019
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) notified a one time increase of 50% in price of 21 essential drugs. The pharmaceutical policy aims to regulate the drug prices with most of the formulations priced below Rs 1 and only two of the items above Rs 10. But with India’s reliance of more than 60% on import of active pharmaceutical ingredients for drugs, the policy needs a relook.
It is the API which gives medicines the therapeutic value. India needs an ecosystem to manufacture APIs and it cannot claim to be a world leader in Pharma without being able to manufacture its own API. The Indian pharmaceutical sector was self sufficient in vital APIs in the 1990s, but it was the price control order on bulk drugs in 1995 which drove many Pharma companies out of this segment. At the same time, bulk drugs and API imports became available easily. This lead to an unhealthy dependence on imported API. The Draft Pharmaceutical Policy 2017 proposed a corrective policy action to include guideline for indigenously producing API to become cost-competitive.
The Policy also calls for pro-active measures to scale up production of API and other key materials required in Pharma with norms for research & development. The need of the hour calls for prompt treatment rather than the policy just remaining a draft.
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