Indian pharmaceutical industry, rated as the 4th largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals in the global market, will grow to reach USD 25 billion mark by 2010. The industry has grown from USD 3.9 billion to over USD 13 billion over the last four years. This is a clear indicator of the huge potential of this sector, according to J Jayaseelan, secretary of Indian Pharmaceutical Association, Tamil Nadu Branch.

He was delivering a speech on "Can India Become a Pharmaceutical Superpower in 2020" at the Rotary Club, Adyar branch in Chennai.

He said the global pharmaceutical market is estimated at 735 billion US dollars. Considering the value of the products, India comes in the 14th position, which shows that the prices of medicines in the country are one of the lowest in the world. The top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the country export more than 50 per cent of their annual production to various overseas markets. The value of pharmaceutical export from India thus account for USD 5.8 billion which is a clear indication of the growth potential of the Indian pharma industry.

Jayaseelan, who is also the director of Ordain Healthcare Pvt Ltd, said Indian Pharma industry has enough skilled and motivated scientists, proven expertise in process chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences. Its growing exposure to US FDA and other international regulatory agencies and high quality manufacturing facilities add to its strength. He said that as compared to US and other developed countries, the recruitment of patients and conducting clinical trials in India are easy. The cost of conducting clinical trials is also less and the country has strong IT skills for clinical data management.

While stressing the advantages of the industry he said the encouraging factor is that API exports by Indian companies are growing over 30 per cent per annum. Indian industry has become the global leader in raw material supplies and in 2005 and every two out of the five Drug Master Files (DMFs) filed in US FDA were from India. The Contract Research and Manufacturing Services (CRAMS) is becoming one of the biggest opportunities for Indian Industry.

He said there are some other factors that also help the exports growing. For instance, it is considered that the blockbuster drugs worth USD 47 billion are getting off patent in next 4 years. Pharmaceutical expenditure comes only 7 to 9 per cent of the total healthcare cost.

Apart from this, the possibility of recovering huge investment made in research is becoming more and more difficult because of competition. Manpower costs in India are 70 per cent lower than what is expended in the USA. Setting up an FDA approved plant is 30 per cent cheaper in India. Global companies have started outsourcing the manufacture of intermediates, API and generic drugs from countries like India and China. Jayaseelan said if these factors continue to do well, Indian pharma industry would become the super power by 2020.