Vijay C Roy
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 11
The Central government’s ambitious plan to set up bulk drug parks at Baddi in Himachal Pradesh, besides in Visakhapatnam, Ahmedabad and Tamil Nadu to boost bulk drug production in the country remains a non-starter even after nearly three years of the announcement.
The decision was taken in this regard by the Centre to reduce dependence of Indian pharmaceutical companies on Chinese firms for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Around 75-80% of the APIs used in the formulations of National List of essential medicines are sourced from China. In 2017, India imported APIs worth $2.5 billion from China. Bulk drugs or APIs are the active raw materials used in a drug that give it the therapeutic effect.
“Over-dependence of Indian pharmaceutical industry on imported raw materials from China to meet the growing requirements of drug formulations is a cause of concern for the industry and policy makers. The government must expedite on the project which will not only boost the Indian APIs manufacturing but will also reduce our dependence on China,” Pharmexcil chairman Dr Dinesh Dua said.
According to Dua, the steep hike in the prices of Chinese APIs in the past two years has been a cause of concern for the industry. The spike in prices was triggered by a decisive push by Beijing to root out polluting industries from the country. “The prices of APIs have seen huge fluctuations in the past two years from 10% to 300% which has hit the industry,” he added.
The Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial belt of Himachal Pradesh is considered to be the second largest pharmaceutical cluster of India and finds an opportunity in setting up a bulk drug park. It has around 650 out of 750 pharma companies in the state. The total turnover of the industry in this belt is around Rs 40,000 crore and has a significant share in the Rs 1.10 lakh-crore domestic pharma market.
“Many members are interested to provide every support to early set up of this park,” said Himachal Drug Manufacturers Association president Dr Rajesh Gupta.
According to a senior official in the Industries Department (Himachal Pradesh), around 863 bighas have been transferred to the Industries Department for setting up the park.
“The land is already with the Himachal Pradesh government. It has been transferred to the state Industries Department for the park. Soon, we will hire a consultant for preparing detailed project report which would be submitted to the Ministry of Environment for getting requisite clearances as pharma falls under red category i.e. highly polluting industry,” said the official.
In 2013, the government had set up a high-level committee under by Dr VM Katoch, then Secretary, Department of Health Research, Government of India, who had the mandate to carefully study the whole issue of APIs of critical importance by identifying important APIs and then working out a package of interventions or concessions required to build domestic production capabilities and examine the cost implications. Based on his recommendations and later on discussions, the idea of setting up bulk drug parks was mooted.
Bulk drug parks
Benefits: Will reduce imports, boost domestic manufacturing
India’s dependence on China: 75-80%
Value of import (in 2017): $2.5 billion