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Why is China turning to Indian Drugs with a High Demand?

Dec, 12 2018
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Pollution, smog, junk food, stress, lack of exercise, have all made us susceptible to falling sick way too easily and keeping our body healthy and ailment free has become a primary concern. With such low immunity levels it has become a tough task to keep ourselves healthy. Sadly the pharmaceutical medicines are becoming extremely expensive by the year which is causing great degree of distress to patients and their families across the world.

Due to an increase in the prices of these drugs, the demand for generic drugs has become high all across the world. India is the major contributing country in the world that produces high quality drugs at lower costs.

The Generic Drug Market of India

India has been considered as a renowned quality generic drug producer and healthcare services provider. Over the years, India has been able to develop a huge export market for generic drugs around the globe. This Indian market has grown to such an extent that a lot of countries now depend upon India for obtaining these drugs, especially China- who seem to have a heavy dependency on generic medicine suppliers in India.

India is one of the few developing countries that has healthcare on top of its development agenda. The pharmaceutical industry of India has experienced a great amount of growth in the last three decades. The resultant effect of this growth has made India the world’s third largest producer of drugs in terms of volume. According to Business World, the industry has generated a double digit growth in the last few years up to US $36.7 Billion in the year 2017 with an expected growth of US $55 Billion by 2020 from US $20 Billion in the year 2015. India has now landed a spot among the top five pharmaceutical emerging markets all over the world.

With the increase in the pharmaceutical market, there is an increase in India’s export of generic drugs at a highly impressive rate, that 24% per year for the last 4 years. Between the year 2012 and 2013, India’s pharmaceutical exports came to about US $14.7 Billion. This means that the Indian pharmaceutical sector is a highly efficient market in terms of its quality and pricing.

According to the estimates of the industry, the pharmaceutical market, alone of oncology drugs in China is approximately $17- 19 Billion. The Indian market exports about $ 17 Billion worth of drugs. Exports to China last year were calculate at $200 million that amounted to 37% growth over the last year and this percentage is on the rise with the news of Chinese government waiving the import tariff on some of the Indian generic drugs. This suggests that there is an increased scope for the generic medicine suppliers in India for exporting life saving drugs, anti- infective drugs and antibiotics to China.

In July 2018, as per the news shared by Udaya Bhaskar, Director, Pharmaceutical Exports Promotion Council (Pharmexcil) with BusinessLine, ‘the Chinese government has waived import tariffs on 28 drugs, primarily anti- cancer drugs and antibiotics from 5-6 pc to zero’. The value added tax has also been reduced greatly on 103 out of 138 antineoplastic drugs, he added.

(UNICEF) United Nations Children’s Fund’s Supply Annual Report has recognized India as the world’s largest supplier of generic medicines. Amongst all developing countries, India is rendering yeoman service by facilitating access of affordable medicines to poor patients with life saving medicines. With the support and ability of the Indian pharmaceutical companies producing drugs at affordable prices, the cost HIV/ AIDS treatment drugs have gone down to $400 per year from the huge sum of $1200 per year- this achievement has been marked as notable contribution to global healthcare and is attracting various nations like China towards Indian generic medicines.

The number of patients and doctors opting for Indian generic medicines in China for the medication and treatment of their ailments, especially for liver and cancer is increasing on a daily basis. This is because the Indian market produces the medicines at a low cost, without compromising on their quality. Although some Chinese still have biases against the Indian medical sector but they are not enough to challenge the incoming demand for India from their country.

A lot of Chinese patients, especially in the third and fourth tier cities are now turning to the Indian soil as it provides high quality services in private hospitals within affordable prices.

The growth in demand for Indian generic medicines has led to an increased number of Chinese companies providing medical tourism services for travelling to India focussing especially on people from the third and fourth tier cities.

The World Pharmacy Market

As recorded by World Bank, United States Census Bureau in the year 2017, China has 138.64 crores of people and with such massive population levels the number of people suffering from different ailments ought to be high. Let us take Hepatitis C for example, there are approximately 10 million patients suffering from Hepatitis C in China, making China the nation with most HCV cases. But sadly the most effective and safest medication for this treatment, direct antiviral agents (DDAs) did not enter China until April 2017 because of the country’s long as well as complicated drug approval process.

With the huge size of the patients affected by hepatitis C, most of those infected are not aware that they are suffering from this condition leading to a low diagnosis and recovery rate. The strict barriers set and hefty prices on imported drugs by the Chinese government make India flourish as the ‘pharmacy of the developing countries’ mostly because the India government has allowed compulsory licenses for expensive drugs giving the right to the Indian manufacturers to produce these drugs without the fear of being penalised under the patent law.

According to the WHO, compulsory licensing is when a government allows someone to reproduce a patented product or process without the consent of the patent owner.

Let us consider the example of Glivec, a drug for leukemia produced by Novartis a Swiss pharmaceutical giant approximately costs 23, 500 Yuan/ $3, 783 per month in China. While its Generic form available in India- Veenat is produced by Natco Pharma an Indian pharmaceutical company that claims to have the active ingredient and effects similar to Glivec which costs as low as 200 Yuan per month.

For many years now, a lot of Chinese patients who are unable to afford the high priced imported drugs in China have been banking upon purchasing agents to get them the access of cheaper Indian drugs.

But the question is when China provides India with the raw materials, why is there a need for the Chinese Patients to take Drugs from India?

The reason this happens is based on the difference in the manufacturing of medicinal drugs by both the countries. The process used by the Chinese administration is quite primitive according to the International Standards. The authorities like FDA are under- funded and have an inefficient drug approval system, making the whole process slow and costly.

Emedkit is one of the leading wholesaler, distributor, trader, exporter and generic medicine suppliers in India established since 2006 that specializes in supplying drugs like Kidney and Liver Transplant Medicines, Pharmaceutical Injections, Injections and Life saving drugs, cancer medicines, nephrology drugs and pharmaceutical capsules and tablets from various companies to any country in the world including China, USA, Peru, Russia and Romania.

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