The government is set to sign an exhaustive deal with Nigeria to boost pharmaceutical exports to its eighth- largest global consumer where the reputation of Indian drugs was recently dented by fake drugs from China bearing ‘Made-in-India’ labels.
The department of pharmaceuticals and the ministries of commerce, external affairs and health will start talks with a visiting Nigerian delegation on Monday on ways to prevent fake drugs from other countries bearing fabricated ‘Made-in-India’ labels from reaching the Rs 1,000-crore West African market for Indian generic drugs.
Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals and Medo Pharma are the biggest Indian exporters to the region. To salvage the reputation of Indian generic drug exporters and to promote sales of Indian generics, India is likely to use resources from the ‘challenge India fund’ maintained by the commerce ministry.
“Both the governments (India and Nigeria) will also discuss setting up a network of retail pharmacies in Nigeria operating with government licence, and putting an end to the existing unregulated medicine outlets,” the official, who asked not to be named, said.
The move will enable the government to put in place a fool-proof system to ensure that fake drugs are not passed off as imported generic drugs from India. Recently, a delegation of Indian authorities led by officials from the commerce ministry also visited Johannesburg to discuss the issue of fake drugs.
At the proposed talks, both the governments will identify steps to encourage Indian drug companies to set up manufacturing units in Nigeria and explore whether Indian public sector drugmakers can supply low-cost quality drugs to the Nigerian government.
The African country had seized a large consignment of fake anti-malarial drugs labelled ‘Made in India’ in May this year that was later traced to China. Three such consignments from China were also seized by the Indian authorities at the Chennai Port. India has also demanded that China should take strict action against the manufacturers whose names and addresses were printed on the confiscated cartons.
“Supply of spurious drugs to Africa is on the rise. Urgent steps have to be taken to ensure that India’s reputation as a reliable supplier of high-quality, low-cost medicines is not ruined. The sooner we act, the better for us,” the official said. Africa accounts for over 15% of India’s total generic exports worth Rs 30,000 crore annually.