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Centre plans to frame exclusive policy on bulk drugs, medical devices, formulation parks to address costly imports

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Thursday, October 12, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Commerce ministry and finance ministry are mulling over to come out with an exclusive policy on developing bulk drug parks, medical device parks and formulation parks going by the government mandate to seek alternatives to costly imports of active pharmaceutical ingredients from China. Union chemicals and fertilizers minister Ananth Kumar had also announced the mandate in the past.

While India is a leader in finished generic drugs, China is a preferred source for APIs because of low price. Indian companies are however losing out to China because of lack of support and incentives from the government to produce APIs.

India imports about 80% of the APIs it needs. It got APIs worth Rs.13,853 crore from China in FY16, or 65.3% of the Rs.21,217 crore total. This includes ingredients for essential antibiotics.

As a step towards fulfilling the mandate, Government of Maharashtra recently met drug manufacturers to explore potential of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in and around Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport (MIHAN) at Nagpur to be developed as pharma hub which will further incentivise local drug manufacturers thus giving impetus to the 'Make in India' campaign.

Touted as the biggest economical development project currently underway in India in terms of investments, the Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN) is an airport project for Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, Nagpur. The project aims to exploit the central location of Nagpur and convert the present airport into a major cargo hub with integrated road and rail connectivity. It consists of two parts, namely an International airport to act as a cargo hub and a SEZ on the southern end of Nagpur.

The state government is also planning to meet industry bodies for further deliberations on the same. Gujarat has also identified a plot of land for medical devices park and constituted a high level committee to deliberate the process of finalizing the proceedings for its setting up. The committee is also responsible to discuss policy measures essential to galvanize and make these parks financially viable.

The Centre has been mulling for quite some time now for setting up the medical devices park in Gujarat. A medical device park is also very much relevant for Gujarat as the state has the largest number of 170 licensed medical device companies as against 240 in the entire country.

The park is stipulated to have common manufacturing facilities and will reduce capital expenditure for projects by offering low cost rentals and revenue support services, thus enabling these units to be competitive. The park will enable the companies with all the latest technological support required for R&D. This becomes all the more relevant as Gujarat government has signed 250 MoUs related to pharmaceutical industry with potential domestic and international investors at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit (VGGS)-2017 at Gandhinagar between January 10 and January 13, 2017. Four MoUs are from overseas. It had inked 201 such pharma MoUs at VGGS-2015.

These MoUs come at a time when Gujarat has become a favoured pharmaceutical hub accounting for nearly 40 per cent of India’s pharma production and 28 per cent of pharma exports. It has also registered a growth of 445 per cent in pharma exports in the past one decade. According to official sources, exports worth US$ 3,060 million has been achieved in 2016 from Gujarat in comparison to exports worth US$ 562 million in 2006.

Last year, the Andhra Pradesh government had laid the foundation stone for India’s first government funded medical devices park Andhra MedMedTech Zone (AMTZ) in Visakhapatnam.


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