By Cristhian Salamanca
After 2.5 years of virtual activities, a delegation of more than 60 pharmaceutical companies from India headed to Latin-American led by Pharmexcil. Their first stopover was in Bogotá D.C., on August 1stand 2nd, with the purpose of opening new opportunities for collaboration and business with Colombian companies. After Colombia, the delegation visited other countries in the region including Bolivia, Peru, and Brazil.
The Indian pharmaceutical industry exports worldwide more than USD 20 billion worth of pharmaceuticals, with a large part of the exports going to developed and regulated markets such as the United States and the European Union. Pharmaceutical exports from India to Latin America reached USD 1.4 billion in the last two years, in which Colombia is the third largest destination for exports of Indian pharmaceutical products in Latin America, although India ranks 7th in the list of the main countries of origin of imports of pharmaceuticals behind the United States, Germany, and China.
The 2-day session event was organized by Pharmexcil, Colombia India Chamber of Commerce and the Embassy of India in Colombia, with the support of the Embassy of Colombia in India, the Pharmaceutical Cluster of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, Ministry of Health of Colombia, Procolombia, ANDI and Invima. Power-packed business meetings between 120 Colombian companies with Indian businessmen served to explore new commercial alliances and renew the traditional commercial relations between the countries, that were being carried out before the pandemic. Potential businesses of more than USD 500,000 dollars were identified.
Around the world, despite the situation due to the pandemic, the pharmaceutical and medical device industry has not been affected like other sectors of the economy. On the contrary, it is estimated that by 2024 global spending on health will increase from 2.8% to 4.0%. The Colombia-India relationship is no exception.
During the financial year (FY) 2020-2021, Indian pharmaceutical exports to Colombia reached USD 106.32 million, an increment of 10.36%. And in FY 2021-2022 the figure reached USD 150.42 million, an increment of 41.48%.Up to date, exports from India to Colombia in April-June Financial year 2022-2023 is USD 40.95 million.
Colombia’s pharmaceutical sector has been consolidating itself as an important hub in the region. Its market size is USD 5.5 billion (2021), and it is projected to grow to USD 6.38 billion (2026). Its Genericsmarket size is USD 2.0 billion (2021), which represents 36% of the market, with the remaining 49% for patented medicines, and 15% for OTC. The projected Genericsmarket is USD 2.54 billion (2026).
Another important aspect of this market is its population health coverage, that according to the Ministry of Health of Colombia, the country has been consolidated as one with the highest percentage of insurance in the provision of its health services, reaching 99.6% of the country’s population(49.7 million people), making it a very attractive market.
It also has the presence of 161 international manufacturers of pharmaceuticals certified with GMP (Jan 2021).Main export destinations of pharmaceuticals from Colombia are Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Mexico, USA, and Chile, with a yearly growth (in volume) of 11%. Transnational companies like Abbott, Pfizer, Fresenius, MSD are established in the country for many years. Indian companies like Dr. Reddy’s, MSN Labs, IPCA, Aurobindo, Glenmark, Hetero, Cipla, among others, are also present in the country.
Recently, VaxThera (Medellín, Colombia), made an alliance with the Indian company Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd. (Pune, India) to strengthen research, development and local production of vaccines and biologicals, both for Colombia and for the rest of Latin America. A milestone that reveals the potential in the pharmaceutical sector. In this sense, there are many opportunities for both countries.
India is one of the strongest generic producers of antiretroviral, given the prevalence of HIV/ AIDS in the country. Generics made in India are competitive in price and of good quality. Also, India has a strong lineup of all those therapy areas related to non-communicable diseases with most affordable prices meeting best regulatory standards.
India’s exporters can obtain better access to Latin-American market by operating from Colombia, inclusive of manufacturing (relocating of value chain) as Colombia has Free Trade Agreements with key markets for pharmaceuticals like El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras; Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay; Mexico and the United States; countries with whom we shared similar time zones and languages like Spanish and English.
Colombia also has one of the most qualified workforces in the Andean Community and Latin-America, and among many other countries in the region, has the lowest barriers to foreign direct investment and has a free zone regime (SEZ in India), with a total of 120 across the country, with very attractive tax incentives for companies.The drug approval timeframes through Invima, remain one of the fastest in Latin-America, offering further appeal for foreign innovative drug makers. The compliance with local regulations for pharmaceutical products, facilitates the process of homologation of health records in other markets. Also, Indian companies with FDA / EMA approvals facilitate local registration before Invima.
Other opportunities on the horizon are the establishment of clinical research centers with new technologies; manufacturers of APIs; logistics and production centers; sophisticated production centers for biotechnological and biosimilar medicines; investment in production of veterinary pharmaceuticals.
It is also possible to carry out corporate mergers and acquisitions, strategic commercial alliances, and representation agreements with local companies, gaining time and experience.
After COVID-19, bringing production closer to its final consumer is starting to look like an increasingly common practice for post-pandemic entrepreneurs, and Colombia could be your next destination.
(The author is a Senior Executive, with 12+ years’ experience in intercultural management and international trade promotion with India. An international speaker he talks about Business, Innovation & Design. He is also Executive Director Colombia-India Chamber of Commerce. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)