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We are in a better shape to handle any untoward circumstances

Ravi Udaya Bhaskar, Director-General, Pharmexcil, shares the scenario of pharma imports and exports, and the role played by Pharmexcil to maintain the global supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic, amidst more, with Akanki Sharma in an exclusive interaction

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Since the outbreak of the pandemic, India Pharma Inc has dealt with unprecedented challenges. What were the top three challenges faced by the Indian pharma industry during the pandemic when it comes to exports? How did Pharmexcil help the industry in overcoming those?
India pharma industry imports most of the KSMs, intermediates and reasonable quantities of APIs. Majority of these are from one single source – China, which has been affected. While India had to, wherever possible, increase local capacities, it also had to find alternate sources across the globe to meet the high demand for finished dosage formulations and APIs from within as well as outside.

Further, transport to move the material was a big task. This was also the case in finding proper shipping lines to export the formulations as well as API. It was precise planning while liaising with the government and the industry, Pharmexcil could bring the issue to manageable levels.

Can you give us an overview on how Indian pharma exports have fared in the past three years? What are the targets for 2022? How is Pharmexcil helping the industry to work towards it?
During the past three years, India’s pharma exports did well, particularly during the pandemic (2020-21) and the growth rate mentioned below is achieved after eight years.

During the current year (2021-22), the commerce ministry set an ambitious export target of pharma that is around $29 billion. Pharmexcil has initiated virtual business meets with Oceania, Africa, LAC, GCC, NEA and other regions to facilitate our exporters for contacting more importers to enhance their exports.

As new opportunities emerge in the global market for India Pharma Inc, what are the three most important steps that companies should consider to smoothen and de-risk their supply chain?
The Government of India has already initiated Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes to improve bulk drug production. Meanwhile, the industry would do well to always develop more sources for their needs. Newer opportunities in the form of vaccines, especially COVID vaccines and newer dosage forms for the existing products, are emerging. Our industry is aware of this development and we have most of our exporters taking strides in that direction.

Can you elaborate on the impact of the PLI scheme on pharma exports from India?
Certainly, it will have a positive impact. However, it’s too early to say how it synergises exports; but, for sure, it reduces our import dependence and enhances our export potential.

As newer variants of coronavirus emerge, how well-prepared is the Indian pharma industry to deal with the likely disruptions to its global supply chain?
As of now, experts feel newer variants may be within manageable reach and companies engaged in vaccine manufacturing are capable of modifying their products accordingly at a rapid speed in India as well as in foreign countries. With the experience industry and other stake holders involved, including governments world over gained, we are in a better shape to handle any untoward circumstances.

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