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Pharma exports rebound in May, clock 17% growth

Pharma exports grew more than 17% in May, over the year earlier period, emerging as a silver lining when most other commodities remained in the negative zone amid the raging COVID-19.

The exports were $1,977.18 million, or 17.32% higher than the $1,685.22 million achieved in May 2019, according to Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) data. Besides, in line with its position as the mainstay of India’s export basket, the latest performance is a rebound from the 23.24% contraction, year-on-year, in March and a negligible 0.25% growth in April.

The cumulative growth for April and May 2020 is 9.21% at $3,508.24 million ($3,212.44 million). “We believe the trend may continue this year owing to the demand for affordable generics from our country,” Pharmexcil director general Ravi Uday Bhaskar said.

On the contributing factors, he said easing of the lockdown measures, especially those that facilitated logistic operations, and manpower movement coupled with quick clearances through the sea and airports had helped the May performance.

Indian companies have ramped up production of repurposed drugs such as Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), Lopinavir, Ritonavir and Dexamethasone owing to the growing demand across the globe. A good number of them are in the frontline to manufacture and distribute generic versions of potential COVID-19 candidates such as Remdesivir, Favipiravir, Tocilizumab.

Removal of various export restrictions would be another favourable condition for exports. “All these factors may boost the exports of Indian pharmaceuticals this year. We are expecting that the exports would be around $24-25 billion. In FY 2019-20, the exports grew 7.57% to $20.58 billion,” Mr. Bhaskar said.

On the share of anti-viral drugs in the exports, he said it was early for such an assessment. However, HCQ exports were $25 million during April-May “which is certainly very high. Whereas, anti-febriles (Paracetamol and its combinations) recorded just normal exports of $41.7 million during the period.”

As regards the road ahead, he said the increasing demand for Dexamethasone and regulatory clearances for Remdesivir and Favipiravir augur well. “We are expecting good exports performance in coming months,” he added.

Though pharmaceutical manufacturing was exempted, a host of restrictions that were part of the lockdown came in the way of the functioning of the units as usual. Transportation of goods and employees was impacted. There were apprehensions regarding continued supplies of raw material. According to Mr. Bhaskar, the inventories usually last 6-8 weeks and there has not been any impact on this count. “It is hoped imports of raw materials may not be affected [from China]. However, with the European Union (EU) taking rapid strides in reviving bulk drug industry, we may not have much of difficulty in feeding our formulation industry,” he said.


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Printable version | May 19, 2022 6:49:37 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/business/pharma-exports-rebound-in-may-clock-17-growth/article31917902.ece