India's pharma industry gain growth during Covid

Wednesday 24th November 2021 05:24 EST

India's adoption stringent patent laws to comply with World Trade Organization requirements in 1995 has led to the formation of new forms of mutually beneficial partnerships between western and Indian pharmaceutical groups. These tie-ups have come under the spotlight during the Covid-19 pandemic, as Indian entrepreneurs have struck deals with western drugs companies to scale up production of sought-after vaccines and Covid drugs for many parts of the global market.

According to Indian government figures, the country exported more than $24bn worth of pharmaceutical products between April 2020 and March 2021, 18 per cent more than in the previous year, as global demand for drugs soared in the pandemic. Growth is expected to remain buoyant as the production and export of jabs and medicines accelerates.

The pandemic offered new challenges and opportunities to the Serum Institute of India (SII) of Adar Poonawalla, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume. Other Indian healthcare entrepreneurs have prospered in the pandemic, as demand for their services surged. According to a report, India has seven billionaires who founded hospital chains, diagnostics labs or other healthcare services. These include Pratap Reddy, founder of Apollo Hospitals and Arvind Lal, the chair and owner of Dr Lal Pathlabs.

A clutch of other Indian companies - including Cipla, Zydus Cadila, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw’s Biocon and B Partha Saradhi Reddy’s Hetero - tied up with US pharma group Gilead Sciences to produce its antiviral drug remdesivir. Other Indian drugmakers - such as Dilip Shanghvi’s Sun Pharma, the Murali Divi-owned Divi’s Laboratories, Manju Gupta’s Lupin and Basudeo Narain Singh’s Alkem, as well as Cipla again - began producing the antiviral favipiravir.
US pharma giant Merck has signed licensing agreements with eight Indian companies, including Cipla, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Hetero and Sun Pharma, to make molnupiravir, an antiviral that studies suggest could cut the risk of hospitalisation and death of Covid patients.

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