Pharmaceutical exports from India increased by 16 per cent in the first eight months of the fiscal year compared to the same period in the last fiscal. The uptick happened amidst a contraction of 18 per cent in overall merchandise exports, according a report by Financial Express. The growth happened as a result of spike in demand for medicines, especially from the US.
Experts are calling the rise commendable, especially considering the disruptions in supply chain and the temporary restrictions on the exports of 26 drug formulations and active pharma ingredients (APIs) — including paracetamol, tinidazole and metronidazole — to keep domestic supplies steady.
According to the commerce ministry data, exports of the pharmaceutical products — comprising drug formulations and biologicals, bulk drugs and drug intermediates — hit $15.3 billion between April and November, against $13.2 billion a year ago. The data don’t include exports of certain fine chemicals.
Excluding the outbound shipments of pharmaceuticals, overall goods exports would have shrunk at a faster pace of almost 20 per cent until November this fiscal, against 18 per cent. The US, which was hit the hardest by the pandemic, typically makes up for about 30 per cent of India’s exports. The commerce ministry data showed that while exports of drug formulations and biologicals jumped by close to 18 per cent to $12.4 billion, those of bulk drugs and intermediates rose by just over 10 per cent to $2.9 billion.
Meanwhile, imports of pharmaceutical products rose by close to 9 per cent on year in the April-November period to $4.2 billion. The Indian pharmaceutical industry is both an exporter to as well as importer of bulk drugs (APIs and intermediates that give medicines their therapeutic value) from China. As much as 65-70 per cent of these raw materials are imported from China. The increase in exports suggests raw material imports from China have largely stabilized now.
A rise in India’s pharmaceutical exports also propped its outbound shipments of the broader chemicals segment and reversed a potential fall. Exports of chemicals and related products rose to $30.7 billion until November, increasing by 2.4 per cent compared to a year earlier.