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Global healthcare partners and Indian pharma companies: Making medicines affordable

Dr Anil Gulati, Chairperson and CEO, Pharmazz highlights that our country plays a pivotal role in delivering quality-certified medications at significantly lower costs, with its dominance in generic medicine production, resilience amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, leadership in vaccine manufacturing, and collaborative efforts in research and development

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In the expansive landscape of global healthcare, India has emerged as a pivotal player, shaping the accessibility and affordability of essential medicines worldwide. As the world’s leading supplier of generic drugs, India’s pharmaceutical industry has become a ray of hope for millions as it ensures quality-assured and cost-effective treatments reach those who need them the most. With its dominance in generic medicine production, resilience amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, leadership in vaccine manufacturing, and collaborative efforts in research and development, our country plays a pivotal role in delivering quality-certified medications at significantly lower costs.

Dominance in generic medicine production 

India’s capability in the pharmaceutical sector is evident in its staggering production figures. The country accounts for 20 per cent of the world’s generic drugs and 60 per cent of the global vaccine supply. It also contributes to 40 per cent of medications in the US and 33 per cent in the EU. This dominance is built upon a robust infrastructure, stringent quality control measures, and a firm commitment to delivering high-quality generic alternatives at significantly lower costs than their branded counterparts.

Resilience in challenging times 

The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges, yet it also catalysed the growth of the Indian pharmaceutical industry. Driven by the urgent need for essential medicines, vaccines, and medical supplies, India’s swift response in ramping up production underscored its reliability and resilience in times of crisis. The industry’s ability to rapidly adapt and meet global demands ensures India’s position as a trusted partner in global healthcare.

Vaccine manufacturing leadership

 India’s leadership in vaccine manufacturing is unparalleled, with the country producing 60% of the world’s vaccines. Indian pharmaceutical companies play a crucial role in fulfilling global demand for critical vaccines, including those endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for diseases (like Tetanus, Pertussis, Diphtheria, and Bacillus Calmette-Guerin), highlighting India’s indispensable contribution to global immunisation efforts.

Transforming access to treatment 

The availability of affordable generic alternatives from India has catalysed significant improvements in access to treatment, particularly in combating diseases like AIDS. Between 2003 and 2009, the number of AIDS patients receiving treatment increased 18-fold, thanks to the accessibility of affordable medications. This impact extends beyond borders, with North America emerging as a key market and accounting for 34 per cent of India’s pharma exports, closely followed by Africa at 19 per cent. The impact of India’s pharma exports will likely improve access to cost-effective treatment for many other diseases worldwide.

Collaborative efforts for innovation 

Global healthcare partners often collaborate with Indian pharma companies in joint research and development initiatives. It enables the sharing of knowledge, resources, and expertise and leads to the development of more cost-effective medicines. Such partnerships are particularly valuable in addressing the healthcare needs of low- and middle-income countries. 

Facilitating technology transfer 

Global healthcare partners frequently leverage technology transfer programs with Indian pharmaceutical companies. This process involves transferring manufacturing know-how and processes, enabling the production of affordable generic versions of patented drugs once their patents expire. It facilitates the availability of affordable alternatives to expensive medications, ultimately benefiting patients worldwide.

Government support and industry strategies

 The Indian government’s initiatives, such as the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, aim to bolster the domestic active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) industry. By strengthening indigenous manufacturing capabilities, these initiatives reduce dependence on imports and ensure a stable supply of essential medicines that align with long-term healthcare goals.

Strategies for market expansion 

Amidst evolving global dynamics, Indian pharma companies are exploring new export markets and diversifying their supply chains. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a re-evaluation of global drug supply chain models, emphasising resilience and adaptability. India’s reputation for affordable, quality manufacturing positions it favorably to capitalise on emerging opportunities and consolidate its global leadership in the pharmaceutical sector. 

Conclusion 

The collaborative efforts of global healthcare partners and Indian pharma companies have been instrumental in making essential medicines more accessible and affordable worldwide. Through research, development, manufacturing, and advocacy, they collectively address global health challenges and improve the quality of life for millions. As the world caters to the evolving healthcare dynamics, this essential partnership will continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring equitable access to lifesaving treatments and driving progress toward a healthier, more inclusive global community

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