India’s pharmaceutical industry has played a “crucial role” during the COVID-19 pandemic and the country has cemented its position as a “dependable nation” when it comes to health crises, according to health experts in India.
The country’s pharmaceutical market, which has been playing a key role in the global pharmaceuticals industry, was estimated at $42 billion domestically in 2021 and is expected to grow further in the coming years. India ranks third worldwide for pharmaceutical production by volume and exports pharmaceuticals to more than 200 countries and territories.
Coinciding with Medicine Day observed on Monday, Suchitra K. Ella, co-founder of top Indian pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech, which manufactures the country’s indigenous COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin, told Anadolu Agency that in the wake of unprecedented challenges by the pandemic for the entire globe over the past two years, the pharmaceutical industry in India has emerged as the key contributor in improving the country’s health care and economic outcomes.
“Living up to its title of the ‘pharmacy of the world,’ India has cemented its position as a dependable nation when it comes to health crises like that of a pandemic,” Ella said.
India last year witnessed an unprecedented second wave of daily infections, with daily figures for cases and fatalities crossing over 400,000 and 4,500, respectively. The second wave of pandemic also collapsed the health infrastructure in the country parts.
In December last year, the government informed parliament that Indian companies “are in a position to meet domestic requirements of COVID-19 vaccines and also contribute their surplus production to global COVID-19 vaccination requirements.”
Ella noted that over the past five decades, India’s pharmaceutical industry has seen significant growth in domestic and global markets while improving public health globally with affordable health care.
“The share of ‘made in India’ medicines in the Indian pharma market is now a robust 80% from the previous 5% in 1969. The pharma industry in India contributes more than 20% by volume of the global generics market and 62% of the worldwide demand for vaccines,” she said.
India’s domestic pharmaceutical market size was recorded at $42 billion in 2021 and is projected to expand to $120 billion by 2030.
According to Ella, “next step for India to rise as the global industry leader was to move towards innovation,” and the country achieved this feat through the manufacturing of an indigenous COVID-19 vaccine by her firm in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research.
“It has been delivered to more than 300 million subjects globally…the Indian government has recognized the pharmaceutical sector as an engine of growth for the country,” she added.
While the sector has been mainly focused on large-scale, high-quality manufacturing of generic medicines and essential medical products, it is now ready for future pandemics.
“This was evident from the numerous vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics that were developed and licensed during the pandemic,” said Ella.
“These products have made a significant and lasting impact on lives and livelihoods, not just within India but globally. The response from the Indian pharma industry to the pandemic and the subsequent learning have made it future-ready to meet global requirements.”
When India started developing the vaccines, it started exporting vaccines as well. But in early 2021, the export of vaccines was slowed down because of the huge demand for vaccines within the country. The Indian government has donated millions of doses of vaccines to foreign countries.
– Focus on quality
Even as India is making a name in the pharma industry, experts maintain that focusing on quality control is a must.
“There is no doubt that during the pandemic, India’s pharma industry played a crucial role,” Digambar Behera, an award-winning Indian health expert, told Anadolu Agency.
“The focus now should be completely on quality control in the industry. Our pharma industry has been successful in saving lives in the country and worldwide, but we need to give special attention to the quality and need to ensure the strict implementation of the policies.”