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      Just the right pill for pharma firms

      Posted AtBusiness-standard.com

      Obama supports supply of low-cost generic or off-patent medicines in his country.

      Indian pharmaceutical companies could be the biggest beneficiaries if Barack Obama’s election assurances on increasing the span of healthcare coverage in the United States are to materialise. The US President-elect is known for his support to the supply of low-cost generic or off-patent medicines in his country.

      The domestic drug industry hailed Obama’s election victory as a positive signal for the Indian drug manufacturing sector. “Obama has been favouring procurement of generic medicines. He is also known to be in favour of plugging the loopholes in the US system that allows innovative pharmaceutical companies enjoy perpetual patent rights over their products. These two aspects should prove very positive for the growth of global generic pharmaceutical industry,” said Dilip Sanghvi, chairman and managing director, Sun Pharma.

      The US accounts for over 19 per cent of India’s pharmaceutical exports today. Indian companies exported $ 1.38 billion worth of medicines to the US in 2007-08. The export growth is also impressive — 39 per cent (in dollar terms) per annum in recent years. Official figures indicate that of the 6,300 active drug master files (regulatory applications for receiving marketing approvals in the US), 26 per cent or 1,700 are from the Indian companies.

      “The election result is very positive for Indian generics. The Democrats have a memorandum that essentially promotes use of generic medicines. They realise that affordable healthcare is important. They will also encourage import of generic medicines. The increase in the penetration of healthcare insurance will result in higher demand for generic medicines,” Sanjiv Kaul, managing director, ChrysCapital said.

      According to Kaul, India will be among the biggest beneficiaries if the US takes a pro-generic stand. “We have the highest number of USFDA approved drug manufacturing plants outside the US,” he added.

      The Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil) puts the number of USFDA approved Indian drug manufacturing facilities at 175. “There are about 155 companies exporting over 150 types or therapeutic categories of medicines to the US,” P V Appaji, executive director, Pharmexcil, said.

      Pharmexcil chairman Venkat Jasti said that the inherent strengths of Indian drug companies will brighten their US business prospects in the long run. “Bill Clinton, who brought down the prices of HIV drugs world over through direct negotiations (through his charitable organisation Clinton Foundation), will have an active role in bringing down the cost of medicines supplied in the US in future,” he added.

      November 06, 2008


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