While India may be one of the fastest-growing pharma markets in the world—it is one of the world’s leading generic producers—it still needs to do a lot in terms of research and pricing, especially if one were to go by the recently launched Access to Medicine Index, compiled by Netherlands-based Access to Medicine Foundation, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK government and the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs. According to a report in the Business Standard, none of the the Indian pharma majors figured amongst the top 20 companies which attempted to make essential medicines, like those for malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, etc, that were affordable for those in low- and middle-income countries.
More important, Indian firms were also missing from the rankings for R&D, capacity building and innovation. This despite the low-cost advantage that domestic manufacturers enjoy. While there is a need for Indian companies to go beyond biosimilars to capture a bigger share of the market, some initiative has to come from the government as well. After all, it is the price ceilings and strict regulations that scuttle innovation. With India already established as a name in the generic market—70% of the exports are in generics—the country can certainly look forward to an ‘innovate-in-India’ strategy for pharma companies.