Clampdown by US, EU regulators fail to dent pharma exports

  • Himani Chandna, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 04, 2016 23:54 IST
Pharma exports rose 17% to Rs 55,724 crore during the April-November period compared to a year-ago.

Pharma exports rose 17% to `55,724 crore during the April-November period compared to a year-ago, even after a string of import alerts over quality issues and ban of 700 drugs by the European Union. The ban alone was expected to impact $1 billion worth of pharma exports.

“During the first half of the current financial year, pharma exports are up by 17% in rupee terms and about 10% in dollar terms,” PV Appaji, director-general, Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil), a body under the commerce ministry, told HT. “Our efforts on the GVK issue have shown results. The stand has shown the confidence on our companies and products. No significant impact on trade has been noticed and in fact, sales have started picking up.”

In July last year, the EU banned the marketing of around 700 generic medicines for alleged manipulation of clinical trials conducted by domestic pharmaceutical research company GVK Biosciences. Defending GVK, India cancelled a meeting with EU’s chief trade negotiator in protest against an import ban, dealing a blow to the proposed free-trade accord between the European trade bloc and Asia’s third-largest economy.

Indian drugmakers, including Sun Pharma, Dr Reddy’s, Cadila and IPCA Laboratories, received warnings from the US health watchdog or import alerts in 2015. “While large firms like Sun Pharmaceuticals, Dr Reddy’s and Lupin account for around $3 billion of exports to the US, the rest comes from dozens of mid- and small-sized drug makers. Hence, the impact on exports is not much visible,” a commerce ministry official said.

However, the government is still concerned about the yearly report. “While the half-yearly trends have been positive, we are being cautious until the financial year closes in March 2016,” the official added. In 2014-15, pharma exports grew at a slower pace of 2.2% to $15.2 billion against $14.9 billion in the previous fiscal.

“While it is good news that no major impact has been witnessed, real impact may come later,” said Hitesh Sharma, national leader, life sciences, Ernst & Young.

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