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Why is India the world’s pharmacy?

Hailed as the ‘pharmacy of the world’, India’s booming pharmaceutical industry is a major source of breakthrough innovations, especially when it comes to providing life-saving medicines at affordable prices to countries that need them. need it most. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the world continued to depend on Indian vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturers for drug supplies.

According to data, India exported 5.84 crore doses of COVID vaccines to 70 countries in March 2021. With a skilled workforce at low cost and a well-established manufacturing base, India is ready to play. an even greater role in global drug safety and continues to be one of the most favored pharmaceutical markets in the world.

What led to the emergence of India as the “pharmacy of the world”?

Product patents on drugs were not granted in India until 2005. As a result, Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers were able to produce low-cost generic versions of patented drugs in other countries. With the help of reverse engineering, India pioneered affordable versions of the anti-HIV (Zidovudine) and life-saving cancer (Imatinib) drugs a few years after their launch in the United States.

With many producers of generic drugs in India, there has been a price reduction of over 99% for drugs in various therapeutic areas such as TB, Malaria, HIV / AIDS, Hepatitis C and Medicines against noncommunicable diseases which are critical aspects of public health. programs.

In addition, India plays a vital role in providing affordable anti-HIV drugs to the world. In 1999, the WHO announced that HIV / AIDS was the number one killer in Africa. As the big pharmaceutical companies started charging $ 10,000 per year per patient for antiretrovirals, for millions of people it became economically unsustainable to seek treatment. The Indian pharmaceutical industry came to the rescue by enabling the manufacture and supply of HIV antiretrovirals with a price cut of 99.99%. India is currently the world’s leading source of affordable anti-HIV drugs, as it is also one of the few with the capacity to rapidly manufacture new anti-HIV drugs in generic form.

Besides drugs, India is one of the largest suppliers of low cost vaccines to countries around the world. When large multinational pharmaceutical companies had a complete monopoly on the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine, India was the first to market the vaccine at an affordable price to the public.

India is the country with the highest number of US Food and Drug Administration compliant pharmaceutical factories, which is playing a key role in increasing its pharmaceutical export efforts. It is estimated that around 65 percent of the world’s children receive at least one vaccine made by India. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, India is among the largest exporters of vaccines with world-class research and development facilities and a skilled workforce.

Main growth drivers for the future

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) will help the industry to come up with new automated algorithms. This will help achieve faster, more accurate, and repeatable results. Drug discovery and molecular analysis are other areas that would also involve the use of AI. The use of AI will in turn help fight difficult diseases, monitor drug adherence, understand complex data, and improve inclusion and exclusion criteria in clinical trials.
  • Research on drugs or drugs to treat rare diseases and neglected diseases will see an increase in 2020.
  • Several pharmaceutical companies would allocate additional resources to create new generation molecules. Over the next few years, India will see more research on gene therapy, stem cell therapy and biosimilars.
  • The rise of digital therapies involving the use of high-quality evidence to deliver optimal therapeutic interventions through automated programs. This will allow pharmaceutical companies to turn to providers of therapeutic services from simple drug manufacturers.
  • Technological advances would also allow healthcare providers to identify new therapeutic areas of treatment from drugs already on the market.
  • The road to follow

    In recent years, India has emerged as a global “medical superpower” by strengthening its research and development ecosystem and fueling pharmaceutical exports. India’s pharmaceutical industry has firmly embarked on a path of growth and innovation, even when the whole world was caught in the clutches of the pandemic. All that can be said with absolute confidence is that further investment will enable India’s pharmaceutical sector to rise to the top layers of the world.

    – The author, Nikkhil K Masurkar, is the executive director of ENTOD Pharmaceuticals. The opinions expressed in this article are his own.

    (Edited by : Dipti Sharma)