The assurance of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by China a source of cheap raw material has sent jitters across the pharmaceutical industry which apprehends that it will lead to drug rates shooting up.
Difficulty in obtaining cheap raw material for chemical synthesis from China has already resulted in price escalation of many drugs. The cost of Heparin, a life-saving injection used to prevent blood clot in kidney transplant and heart surgery has jumped from Rs 32 to Rs 120 in an year.
Five mg of Intravenous Immunoglobulin, administered in case of immunity loss, especially in children, is now priced at Rs 15,500 compared to Rs 2,700 two years back.
In the main pharma belt of Baddi in Himachal catering to the region north of Delhi 300 units have switched over completely to the indigenous market for getting raw material which is comparatively costlier and of approved standard.
According to V Jain, former drug inspector, Chandigarh, “Following the Beijing Olympics in 2008 most of the drug factories in China shut down, leading to manifold increase in drug rates. Now, we are expecting a rise in the medicine cost due to emission cuts announced by China.”
Agreeing that the market is driven by economic conditions and the industry shall make up for the loss from the consumer, Girish Sahni, director, Institute of Microbial technology, said, “Scientists must be motivated to come up with newer technologies so that we are able to manufacture chemicals which are imported from places like China. There is a need for the government to subsidise these chemicals and raw materials at this time.” Though the raw material from China is not have approved standard, the buyers have been making a beeline for cheap material.
Emphasising on the need to look for solutions, Parakshit Bansal from National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali said, “We have cheap labour and most of the raw material is available in India. But for the drugs for which we are relying on imports, there is a need to rebuild our biotechnology area.”