Indian Pharmaceutical Industry could well be a contender for global supremacy by the next decade, competing effectively with China

By the next decade of this millennium both India and China are expected to be the top two emerging markets of the world in the pharmaceutical sector, registering a scorching pace of growth all around. The quality of consistency and sustainability of growth, will determine who will be the main contender of supremacy and the ultimate winner in this game of wealth creation for the respective countries and be the ‘Eldorado’ of the global pharmaceutical companies.

The financial reform measures in the run up to the process of globalization started earlier in China, in 1980 as against 1990 in India. In that sense China took a plunge to be an active member of the ‘global village of commerce’ at least a decade earlier than India.

Reform process started earlier in China:

The Product Patent regime in India was reintroduced in January 1, 2005. Well before that China started creating and encouraging a large number of independently funded pharmaceutical R&D institutions to create an environment of innovation within the country. Many of these institutions are now viable profit centres, creating wealth for the country.

At the same time, focusing on global ‘economies of scale’, Chinese pharmaceutical players have now become globally competitive, may be a shade better than India. Clear dominance of China in the business of ‘Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API)’ among many other, will vindicate this point. On the other hand in the formulations business, India is miles ahead of China, catering to over 20% of the global requirements for the generic pharmaceuticals. Moreover, in ANDA and DMF filings, as well, India is currently much ahead of China.

FDI in India and China:

The Pharmaceutical Industry in India has now started attracting increasing Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). As per the reply to question No. 615 tabled in the Parliament of India (Rajya Sabha) on November 25, 2009 by Mr. Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of State, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, from the year 2006-07 up to September 2009, India attracted FDI of US $ 817.30 million for Drugs and Pharmaceuticals with a compounded growth rate of around 60%. USA, Canada, Singapore, UAE and Mauritius contributed 82% to this FDI, which in turn helped significantly to fuel further development and growth of the Industry.

According to ‘The Survey of Foreign Investments in China’s Medicine Industry’ of the Government of China, the FDI in the pharmaceutical industry of the country for the three year period commencing from 2006 to 2008 was around US $ 1772 million, over one third of which coming from Hong Kong and around 11% from the USA.

It is worth noting that the financial and policy reform measures were initiated in China much earlier, as compared to India, which in turn have enabled China to attract more FDIs in the pharmaceutical sector, thus far. In the new paradigm of the post product patent regime both the countries are expected to grow at a scorching pace attracting more and more FDIs for their respective countries.

In this article, I would like to focus on some of these comparisons to assess the progress made so far by both the countries, in a comparative yardstick and the key factors, which will decide the pace-setter.

Country ranking both in value and growth terms:

In global ranking, China is currently the seventh (India: 14) largest pharmaceutical market and is expected to be the fifth (India: 10) largest market by 2015 and the third largest by 2020. Chinese pharmaceutical market is expected to grow by over 15% per annum in the next five years, which is higher than India.

Healthcare coverage of population:

China is racing ahead and gradually but surely distancing itself from India, widening the performance gap with rapid increase of domestic consumption of modern medicines. It is worth mentioning that as per WHO, the access to modern medicines in China is around 85% as against just 35% in India. Of a population of 1.3 billion, 250 million of Chinese are covered by health insurance
, another 250 million partially covered by insurance and balance 800 million are not covered by any insurance. In India total number of people who are having some sort of healthcare financing coverage will be around 200 million and penetration of health insurance will be just around 3.5% of the population.

Currently India is losing grounds to China mainly in healthcare infrastructure development, with inadequate healthcare delivery systems and delay in rolling out a long overdue comprehensive healthcare reform process in the country.

Strong commitment of the Chinese Government to the globalization process:

Strong commitment of the Chinese Government to make China a regional hub of R&D and contract research and manufacturing (CRAM) activities within next seven to ten years is paying rich dividends.
Department of Pharmaceuticals recently expressed its intention to make India a R&D hub in not too distant future. This cannot be achieved just through investments of couple of million US $ through Public Private Partnership (PPP). A strong commitment of the Government to hasten regulatory reform processes will be the key factor. The new product patent regime for the pharmaceutical industry has ushered in a new paradigm, with the Government planning to strike a right balance between TRIPs compliant IPR regime and the ‘Public Interest’ and NOT one at the cost of the other.

India and China competing well in Pharma outsourcing business:

Since last 5 years both India and China have made rapid strides in the space of pharma outsourcing. Today the evolving business model of ‘Contract Research and Manufacturing Services (CRAMS)’, is shaping up quite well. To make India a global hub for Pharmaceutical outsourcing of all types, the pharmaceutical industry of the country has all the ingredients. India has the potential to emerge as a serious contender for global supremacy, in this fast growing sector, especially in ‘contract manufacturing’ area, having largest number of US-FDA approved manufacturing plants, outside the USA.

According to ‘Global Services”, in 2009 Pharmaceutical outsourcing market in China and India was of US $ 1.77 billion and US $ 1.42 billion, respectively with China growing at a faster pace. The future growth potential for both the countries is huge, as each enjoyed just 2% share of this outsourcing market in 2009.

It has been forecasted that China will have more environmental growth accelerators than India due to greater continuing fiscal stimulus and policy support by their Government, which could catapult the country ahead of India, just beyond 2010.

‘Country Attractiveness Index’ for clinical trials:

‘A.T. Kearney’ developed a ‘Country Attractiveness Index (CAI)’ for clinical trials, for the use of, especially, the pharmaceutical industry executives to make more informed decision on offshore clinical trials. As per this study, the CAI of China is 6.10 against 5.58 of India.

Pharmaceutical patent filing:

In patent filing too China seem to be ahead of India. Based on WIPO PCT applications, it has been reported that 5.5% of all global pharmaceutical patent applications named one inventor or more located in India as against 8.4% located in China. This will give an Indication how China is making rapid strides in R&D areas, as well.

Where India is regarded clearly as a preferred destination:

However, India is globally considered as a more mature arena for chemistry and drug-discovery activities than China. Most probably because of this reason, companies like, DRL, Aurigene, Advinus, Glenmark, Nicholas Piramal and Jubilant Organosys could enter into long-term deals with Multinational Companies (MNCs) to discover and develop New Chemical Entities (NCEs).

Pharmaceutical exports, by end 2010:

India is currently an attractive pharmaceutical outsourcing destination across the globe. Pharmaceutical exports of India is currently far ahead of China. However, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) reports that China may reverse this trend by the end of 2010, establishing itself as the largest country for Pharmaceutical exports. In API exports China has already overtaken India, way back in 2007. The report titled, “The Changing dynamics of pharmaceutical outsourcing in Asia” indicates that in 2007 against API exports of U.S$ 1.7 billion of India, China clocked a figure of US$ 5.6 billion. By the end of 2010, China is expected to widen the gap further with API export of U.S$ 9.9 billion against India’s U.S$ 2.8 billion.

Korn/Ferry International reports that more and more Indian talent is being pulled to China to fill key roles, especially in the API sector, signaling ‘brain drain’ from India to China.

Conclusion:

As I said earlier and as has been reported by Korn/Ferry, China’s current overall infrastructure in the pharmaceutical space is better than India primarily due to firm commitment of the Chinese government to initiate reform measures to fetch maximum benefits of globalization process in the country. Government of India seems to be lacking in its commitment to play its role both as a provider and also as an effective enabler in this important space of ‘knowledge economy’ of the world.

India has all the potential to surge ahead with more rapid strides in this ball game. To achieve this cherished goal, the government, other stakeholders and the domestic pharmaceutical Industry should play the ball well, effectively, and in tandem.

Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.

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