In value terms, China was India’s biggest source of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in 2016/17 according to figures presented to parliament by Health Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey last week.
India imported active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) worth INR183.72bn ($2.88bn) in the 12 months to the end of December. The value of actives coming from China was INR122.54bn, or 66.7% of the total.
In 2015/16 Chinese APIs represented 65.2% of the total value of imports. In 2014/15, 64.3% of the total value of APIs brought into India came from manufacturers in the People’s Republic.
Minister Choubey did not say whether the volume of APIs sourced from China had increased.
Instead, he reported the “total number of drugs/drug ingredients” India imported from China in 2017 was 354, up from 316 in 2016.
When asked if the Government intends to reduce India’s reliance on Chinese APIs, Choubey said, “The policies formulated by Government from time to time are made so that the country’s dependence on imports is minimized.
“In this direction, the Government had on 29.01.2016 notified the withdrawal of exemption in custom duties which were earlier given to certain categories of drugs and bulk drugs to provide a boost to the domestic manufacturers.”
Choubey added that Indian drug makers sourced APIs from manufacturers in 59 countries last year, up from 58 in 2016 and 44 in 2014.
He also revealed that, behind China, the next biggest source of APIs used in India in 2017 was Germany followed by the US, Italy and Singapore.
Price controls and procurement
In August, India’s Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) suggested price controls and restricting procurement by Government agencies to locally-made APIs would cut the country’s reliance on imports.
The DoP also suggested Indian API and intermediates manufacturers would benefit from the establishment of "mega bulk drug parks” where facilities for pollution control and water treatment could be shared.