Commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday expressed concerns over growing imports of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) even as India is being increasingly seen as an emerging pharma hub.
“When we are setting up pharmaceutical and biotechnology hubs… the dependence on imported APIs worries me a lot,” Sitharaman said at the Global Biotechnology Summit in New Delhi. She asked the pharmaceutical industry, experts and academia to launch a concerted effort to find out ways to reduce reliance on imports of APIs, which are usually raw materials for finished pharma products. The Prime Minister’s Office has also been pushing for a greater role for the pharmaceutical industry in the Make In India programme.
Importantly, China accounts for roughly 85% of the total Indian import of APIs. India imported APIs worth $3.9 billion in 2014-15, with China accounting for $3.3 billion. This has also contributed to the huge trade deficit that India has with its neighbour. While India’s total exports to China stood at almost $12 billion in the last fiscal, its imports from the communist nation were a staggering $60.4 billion.