India is the world’s largest supplier of generic drugs and supplies more than 50 per cent of the world ‘s demand for many vaccines.Even through being a leading supplier of medicines to a number of countries, India relies heavily on China for raw materials even to produce medicines as basic as Crocin. It also exports 70% of the APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) from China. Drug makers say the low cost of importing these items, along with slow movement on the policy front to encourage domestic bulk drug industry, has led businesses to continue to rely on Chinese imports. This had put India in a tough spot during the COVID-19 pandemic, when China had closed most of the supply chains due to shortage of medicines in their own country. India realized its over-dependence on China and that Indian pharma industry needs better policy.

At the same time this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, US President Donald Trump has signed an order to boost domestic production of “essential medicines” and “critical” inputs of drugs. This move can affect India as it is one of the largest suppliers of medicines to the US overseas.It is said that every third pill sold in America is reportedly made in India. According to India’s Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council (PHARMEXCIL), India’s pharmaceutical exports to the US are valued at around $6 billion in ex-factories.Trump’s new order will change the way the US procures its essential drug supplies, and Indian businesses will face the brunt as a result of export earnings reductions. This will also have an impact in terms of the product range being catered for by private US firms and related Indian sourcing.

After realizing the dangers posed to the pharmaceutical industry due to the above reasons, the government has started taking steps towards becoming self-reliant in the pharma business. India has the potential to become a global leader in pharma and to make this happen, the government and the pharma industry should make tremendous efforts to create supportive regulatory set- up with a simplified pricing/drug approval process and expedited investment approvals. Indian pharma industry needs better policy and incentives such as cheaper land, power, faster environmental clearances and financial schemes to boost domestic capacities and capitalize on every opportunity which will come in the way incase global players shift their base from China to India.

India is already in the spotlight in this COVID-19 pandemic after supplying the “miracle” drug hydroxychloroquine and ingredients for vaccine candidates to many major countries like the USA, France, Germany etc. All Indian pharmaceutical Industry needs is policies and incentives for the pharma companies to revamp the infrastructure of the drug manufacturers so that they can set-up more and more manufacturing plants to produce and supply the key drug ingredients.