Costly active pharma ingredients from China create healthcare hurdles in India

Source: Down to Earth

What is the news?

A recent report Pharma Industry: Trends and Prospects has identified various gaps in Pharma Industry of India due to its dependence on China for API’s.

What is an API?
  • Active pharmaceutical ingredients or APIs can be defined as the chemicals used to manufacture pharmaceutical drugs.
  • The active ingredient(AI) is the substance or substances that are biologically active within the drug and is the specific component responsible for the desired effect it has on the individual taking it.
Findings of the report
  • Nearly 70% of the country’s APIs are imported from China
  • This dependence is around 90% for certain life-saving antibiotics such as cephalosporins, azithromycin and penicillin
  • There are gaps in diagnostic services in India, especially in rural India. It caused anxieties among the population regarding procuring medicines, arranging COVID-19 tests and treatment
  • Enhance expenditure on health care system– The overall spending on health varied from 1.3% of the gross domestic product in 2010-11 to 1.5% and 1.8% of the GDP for 2019-20 and for 2020-21. This needs to be increased
  • Use digital technology– 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
  • Promoting best state practices at national level
  • The industry should explore new and innovative options to generate and sustain new revenue streams.
Implications of the findings

India’s import dependency on China for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) is leading to shortage of equipment, including small- and large-scale bioreactors and fermenters.

This dependency on China, amid rising border tensions with it, also presents a threat to India’s public health security.

It must be noted that during COVID pandemic, due to increased demand, the prices of APIs shot up pretty quickly causing problems for India.

Hence, it is a high time that the country explored ways to develop inputs indigenously.

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