Jairam Ramesh, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) from Karnataka :
- Indian pharma: 3rd largest by vol. globally. Share of 20% generics exports & 60% of vaccine prodn., exporting to > 200 countries. The foundation was laid by Patents Act of 1970. Public sector IDPL spawned many pvt enterprises too. Price regulation from 70s protected consumers.
- But COVID-19 & border tensions with China have exposed India’s strategic vulnerabilities in the pharma sector. India imports 70% of active pharmaceutical ingredients(APIs), key to drug production, from China!
- The contribution of APIs to overall cost of prodn is approx 40%, & sometimes 70–80%. India imported ₹17,400 cr worth of APIs from China in 2018-19. The breakdown of supply due to COVID-19 revealed our dependence on China. API prices increased steeply in May & June this year.
- Further, in medical devices & diagnostic sector, almost all components (reagents, enzymes, antibodies & equipment) are imported, threatening India’s health security in a time of crisis. This should be one of the top priorities for Atmanirbhar Bharat.