The Indian pharmaceutical industry faces “intense competition” from China as it tries to grow exports to $25bn, the country's commerce minister said.
Growth of the bulk drug and formulation export industries of India’s BRIC peers, particularly China and Brazil, have prompted questions about the pharmaceutical competitive landscape in parliament.
“Indian pharmaceutical exporters are facing intense competition in international markets from China, particularly in bulk drugs sector”, Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia, Indian minister of state for industry and commerce, said in response to questioning by a fellow politician .
Double-digit growth pushed Indian bulk drug exports through the $1bn (€770m) barrier in 2010 but China still holds a formidable lead. Data gathered by the United Nations also shows China making gains in the formulations export market.
From 2008 to 2010 China grew its formulations exports by 50 per cent, more than double the rate of India’s increase. Over this period China closed the formulations export gap on India from $2.1bn to $1.6bn.
Some of the gains made by Chinese exporters of bulk drugs and formulations are a result of links to African countries. A 2011 report by Indian export promotion council Pharmexcil found China was gaining market share in several African countries.
For example, between 2007 and 2009 China increased its bulk drug market share in Algeria by 150 per cent. The surge saw China overtake India to become the second biggest exporter of bulk drugs to Algeria, behind France.
Chinese companies also made gains in formulations exports to Africa. In 2009 India accounted for one-third of formulations imports to Burundi but Pharmexcil found China is “beginning to make a dent” after entering the market in 2008.
India has responded by targeting annual pharmaceutical exports of $25bn by 2014, Jyotiraditya said. In 2010 bulk drug and formulation exports totalled $7.1bn. Adding sales to China is part of the plan, Jyotiraditya said, and India is also trying to overcome resistance to plans to tighten ties with Pakistan .
Japan is the next target. At CPhI Japan in March Pharmexcil, at the request of the Indian government, will begin its ‘Pharma Brand India’ campaign. The strategy is intended to increase “share in existing and new markets” and counter “negative publicity in some countries by vested interests”.
Pharmexcil thinks “negative publicity” has directly impacted formulations exports to Nigeria. From 2007 to 2009 the Nigerian formulation market grew 58 per cent but imports from India dipped. The decline is “probably due to controversies of counterfeiting being falsely reported”, Pharmexcil said.
In 2009 the Nigerian Government Drug Regulatory Authority (NAFDAC) seized more than 600,000 sachets of counterfeit antimalarial drugs labelled ‘Made in India’. However, NAFDAC said tests showed the drugs were manufactured in China.