Government blames India's poor quality stigma on 'turf war' with West

By Dan Stanton contact

- Last updated on GMT

Brand India was one of the largest advertisers at this year's CPhI Worldwide Show in Madrid
Brand India was one of the largest advertisers at this year's CPhI Worldwide Show in Madrid

Related tags: Pharmaceutical drug, Food and drug administration, India

The over-reaction to quality infringements by Indian drugmakers is part of a “turf war” with Western firms, the Indian Government says.

At last month’s CPhI event in Madrid, the marketing campaign by the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) and the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) included sponsoring the pre-connect conference, a pavilion in one of the halls, a large hot-air balloon outside the show and walls awash with the Rx India logo.

Rita Teaotia, Secretary at the Department of Commerce, told in-Pharmatechnologist.com the marketing expenditure to “sell the India story of quality, depth and more capacity to deliver,”​ remained modest, and was there to support the 274 exhibiting Indian companies.

But when asked whether the campaign was to help counter negative perceptions of the Indian pharma industry arisen from a recent spate of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letters and import alerts - just last week Dr Reddy’s was hit with a warning​ – Teaotia said these are not “perceptions, these are actually turf wars.”

“These are struggles for market share, and there are companies in the Western world which have been enjoying high prices for a very, very long time,”​ she said.

“If someone is able to compete at more aggressive pricing then it hurts them, and part of this over-reaction to minor infringements, maybe, comes from this.”

However, Teaotia told us she was not worried about this as feedback from customers and payers have shown they are “happy with the quality”​ of Indian products. “This is what we have to believe, not insidious propaganda which is spread through irresponsible reports.”

An example of the Rx India logo at CPhI Madrid
An example of the advertising campaign by Brand India at this year's CPhI in Madrid

Robust exports

Furthermore, the high number of exports of pharmaceutical products stand testament to the strength of the Indian pharma industry, she continued.

“I do not think we need to get terribly challenged by this for the simple reason that our markets remain robust and people continue to buy and see the quality that we deliver.”

Teaotia was part of a delegate of Indian Government officials present to represent the Indian pharma industry, and help establish some of the smaller firms looking to increase their exports of APIs and finished pharmaceutical products.

“In the course of two days we’ve visited at least half of these [274] Indian companies and the question we ask of each of them is ‘how is business this year?’”​ she said. “And the story we hear uniformly is that there is great business happening, they are doing well.”

But the real proof of success, Teaotia said, is in India’s export figures where, despite a general contraction in global trade, “the pharma sector has not seen a decline.”

Department of Commerce figures verify this, although growth has slowed down as the table below shows. The latest figures show all exports of pharmaceutical products between April and August this year were close to $5.5bn (€5.1bn), representing a growing 5% share of India’s total exports.

 

PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCT EXPORTS ($m)

Year-on-Year Growth

2015-2016(Apr-Aug)

5,455.91

-

2014-2015

11,584.58

4.0%

2013-2014

11,140.50

10.7%

2012-2013

10,062.70

18.6%

2011-2012

8,483.46

27.1%

2010-2011

6,676.43

28.6%

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