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      Govt may step in to curb Indian pharma war in Africa

      Posted AtFinancial Express

      The government is likely to intervene in the price war among Indian exporters of bulk drugs and pharmaceuticals to the $5-billion plus African pharmaceutical market.Currently, India exports close to 10% of its pharma APIs, bulk drugs and formulations to 15 African nations, with Nigeria being the primary export destination. India’s aggregate exports stands at Rs 16,000 crore.
      Industry sources said that generic products from India are facing a price erosion to the tune of 20-25% on an average, while branded products were more or less insulated.

      Generics in the antibiotics segment in particular has been under pricing pressure, sources added.

      The price war among the close to 1,000 Indian manufacturer exporters and merchant exporters is more intense than competition from Chinese players and multinational companies in markets including South Africa, Kenya, Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia.

      The Chinese players, according to sources, are stronger in bulk drugs business than in APIs, so are not much of a competition.

      “We are aware of the price competition among Indian players. We are thinking of having discussions with major exporters to sort out the issue,” said a source.

      Major companies that export to the African market include Ranbaxy, Cipla, Cadilla, Unichem, Alembic and Sun. “The price war is also encouraging companies to look at the South American markets of Venezuela, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Chile, where the volumes as well as values are high,” said Alok Saxena, director of Elder Pharma.

      The South Asian markets of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Burma and China are also attractive.

      Another strategy is to sell more of branded products, and to extend agreements of licensing with partner companies, for export to the African region.

      The African markets were deemed important for the Indian pharmaceutical exporters who, of late, have been facing intense pricing pressure from the regulated markets of the US and Europe. The African countries are dominated by MNCs, who charge relatively higher prices for their products.

      “The government has been making efforts to encourage exports to the African markets, and is also planning to hold a meeting of ambassadors of the African countries in Hyderabad in December to highlight the importance of these markets,” said Dr PV Appaji, executive director of Pharmexcil, a council set up by the ministry of commerce and industry to promote exports from India.

      Pharmaceutical exports constitute almost 40% of the total production of pharmaceuticals in India.

      Of the total pharmaceutical exports, formulations contribute nearly 55%, while the rest comes from bulk drugs.

      September 27, 2005


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