PM asks pharma industry to increase output of raw materials for medicines and vaccines


Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday, asked the Indian pharmaceutical industry to focus on increasing domestic production of key raw materials for medicines and vaccines, with a clear intent to make India self-reliant in this crucial pharma space.

The Prime Minister, while addressing the Global Innovation Summit 2021 by Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA), asked the industry to also focus on development of traditional Indian medicines/ herbal medicines in the backdrop of their growing global demand.

Highlighting the two areas, the PM asked the industry to explore them carefully.

On the raw material requirements, Modi said: “While we have been fighting the pandemic, we found that this was one issue that needed much more attention. Today, when 1.3 billion people of India have taken it upon themselves to make India Atmanirbhar (self-reliant), we must think about ramping up domestic manufacturing of key ingredients for vaccines and medicines. This is one frontier that India has to conquer,” he said in his virtual address.

Supply shortages

Notably, during the pandemic, the Indian pharmaceutical industry had to suffer due to supply shortages of key active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) from China due to pandemic-induced logistical disruptions. China commands dominance in supply of APIs to Indian formulations makers and supply disruptions cause sharp price rise.

On the vaccine production front, when India was passing through the worst second wave, the vaccine production at Serum Institute of India (SII) for Covishield faced uncertainties following the decision by its raw material supplier US invoking the Defense Production Act curbing the export of crucial vaccine raw materials. The issue was resolved only after a top-level diplomatic involvement.

In a bid to secure raw material supplies for medicines and vaccines, the PM asked the entrepreneurs to invest for raw material production. “I am sure that investors and innovators are keen to work towards overcoming this challenge,” he said.

The Union Minister for Health, Mansukh Mandaviya, also reiterated the point while inviting the global pharmaceutical investors to invest, innovate and produce in India.

“India has all the necessary infrastructure and ecosystem to become the healer of the world. This pandemic has given the world many lessons. The importance of drug security is one of that. “When any country invests in India, the drug security is an important factor they consider while putting up a manufacturing facility.”

The Prime Minister also emphasised on popularising the Indian traditional medicines on the global front. “There is now significant and growing demand of these products in the international markets. This can be seen through the sharp rise in exports of these products as in 2021 India exported herbal medicines worth $1.5 billion. Also, the WHO is working to set up its global centers for traditional medicines in India,” said Modi

Industry doyens, including Pankaj Patel, Chairman of Zydus Cadila, and Samir Mehta, Chairman of Torrent Pharmaceuticals, who is also the Chairman of IPA, addressed the gathering, giving a highlight about the prowess of India’s pharmaceutical industry

“India constitutes 20 per cent share of the global supply chain of medicines by volume and supplies about 60 per cent of the vaccines required globally. The Indian pharma industry is a $45 billion in size and ranks third in production of volume and 13th in value. India has played a vital role in supply of high-quality medicines for several chronic diseases. India is polio-free because of strong collaboration between vaccine makers, healthcare providers, government and development organisations,” said Patel.

IPA Chairman Samir Mehta stated that the theme of the summit is ‘Discover in India: Accelerating the Innovation Journey of the Indian Lifesciences Industry’ and apt in the current Covid backdrop. “The summit is the first-of-its-kind being organised in the country with key objectives such as discuss recommendations to improve innovation landscape in India, share learnings and emerging trends in the global innovation landscape and provide a platform for entrepreneurs and researchers to showcase their ideas/innovation.”

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