Greek crisis: A new avenue for Indian drug exports

  • Himani Chandna, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 28, 2015 04:48 IST

Debt-ridden Greece and the global pharmaceutical industry are not getting along well. The Greek government has recently accused more than 50 pharmaceutical firms, globally, of cutting off supplies of key drugs.

However, Greeks might find a saviour in Indian-made low-cost generics. As per commerce ministry, the exports of drugs into Greece have fallen by over 35% in last three years. However, government is drafting new set of plans to offer debt-ridden Greeks with cheapest ‘Made in India’ generics.

"India stands a better chance as we are the most affordable at high quality," said PV Appaji, director general at pharmaceutical export promotion council of India (Pharmexcil), which is under the ministry of commerce and industry. "Considering the fact that Greece is now looking to tighten its belt all round including pharmaceutical expenditure which is mostly met by the government welfare measures, generics will be promoted."

The move will also help India to boost trade relations with Europe, particularly Greece, where imports of Israel-made generics have spiralled in last few years. “We are planning to push our generics, especially for common ones such as anti-infectives, anti-fungal, anti-diabetic, anti-biotics among several others. Through this, we may find a route to explore fresh markets in Europe and kick-start a new trade relationship, as Israel dominates drug exports in many parts of Europe including Greece,” said a senior official at ministry of commerce and industry.

Almost all drugs sold in Greece are imported, and Greek hospitals have been in arrears since December. Also, they have paid on and off for several years. Previously, public hospitals and state insurers have owed global drug makers $1.5 billion or more.

However, analysts offer caution. “We can push exports till Greece is in euro zone. Otherwise, it’s a higher risk zone,” said Sujay Shetty, leader, pharmaceuticals, PricewaterhouseCoopers India.

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