Six or seven years ago, the European API industry was “close to dying” as Chinese and Indian pharma ingredient makers continued to grow, the Chairman of the EFCG said at the CPhI meeting in Madrid this week.
But now the market outlook is positive, Gian Mario Baccalini told members of the press, with Big Pharma companies returning to Europe for their drug ingredient needs.
“We have invested in quality and safety, and this was a very good choice,” he said. “Customers’ concerns have shifted from price to compliance and continuity of supply… and we are seeing a return of clients, especially innovators, who previously left Europe to go shopping for their active ingredients and excipients elsewhere.”
While quality and reliability are the main drivers – “everyone knows there are big issues in India with regards to warning letters,” he said – he also attributed this trend to the talent in Europe and ecological treatment at facilities, saying 800 plants in China (10% of the total) have closed down because of the latter.
Flight to quality
In-Pharmatechnologist asked what evidence he had to support his claims that there is a “flight to quality” trend occurring.
Baccalini said his own firm - Italian ingredient maker Euticals - had seen a 12% increase in sales over the past year but the overall positive outlook is based on an internal market research report carried out among EFCG members.
Recently, Infa Group told this publication it had been investing in quality in a successful drive to bring back customers from lower-cost economies.
India’s increasing exports
But in-Pharmatechnologist also spoke to a delegation representing the Indian pharma export industry at the show which disputed the EFCG’s claims.
Rita Teaotia, Secretary at the Government of India’s Ministry of Commerce and India, said Western pharma customers have not turned their backs on Indian suppliers, and according to both monthly export figures and the observations made by many of the 200 plus Indian companies present in Madrid, trade is actually increasing.
Either way, both the EFCG and India’s pharma representatives agree the trend towards outsourcing is expected to continue to grow, with the European trade group estimating the global market for API to be worth around $43bn.