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India: The Pharmacy Of The Third World And Biggest Exporter Of Generic Drugs

Generic medicines are one of India's greatest assets when it comes to exporting to countries seeking affordable medications.

As the name implies, a generic drug is an identical version of a brand-name drug in terms of dosage form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance characteristics, and intended use.

From being virtually non-existent after independence to being valued at an astonishing $20 billion in the domestic market, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has come a long way [1].

As noted by a recent report, the pharmaceutical industry is currently ranked third in the world in terms of volume and thirteenth in terms of value. It is also one of the largest producers of generic medicines in the world and is known as the "pharmacy of the third world."

Low Production Cost Cultivates Strong Partnerships

In the global pharmaceutical industry, the country with 1.3 billion people plays a very significant role. At present, it is the largest international provider of generic medicines, which are cheaper- but are also the same as brand-name medicines. Additionally, more than 50 per cent of the worldwide demand for vaccines is supplied by the Indian pharmaceutical industry [2].

The low cost of production has always been a key source of India's industrial strength, as India's production costs are 60 per cent lower than in the United States and 50 per cent lower than in Europe. This has contributed to the development of an extremely strong partnership between Western and Indian companies.

The History Behind 'Global Medicine Factory'

In the early 1960s, the government began to promote the manufacture of medicines by Indian companies. A turning point, however, occurred in 1970, when the government prohibited the patenting of medicines [3].

Due to the lack of health insurance and low salaries in India, importing already available branded medicines would be prohibitively expensive for the Indian population. Instead, generic medicines needed to be produced locally.

With the COVID pandemic, the exports of generic medicines have increased greatly, as both developed and developing countries are concerned about the high cost of patented medicines and seeking cheaper alternatives. Several countries are seeking to reduce the cost of healthcare by using more generic medicines in the long run [4].

Based on recent reports, the pharmaceutical industry of the country has demonstrated significant progress and adapted to a changing environment, which will contribute to the success of generic medicine exports from India.

Story first published: Tuesday, December 6, 2022, 13:22 [IST]
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