India plans to lessen its drug reliance on China: The recent tension between India and China has prompted the government here to think of measure to reduce its dependence on China for Pharmaceutical products. The Health Ministry along with drug regulators is planning to take a serious of measures to limit reliance on China as well as tighten the regularity checks and balances to ensure only good quality supplies are entering the Indian market.Currently, India gets 70-80% of its medicine and medical devices supplies, including raw material for the Pharmaceuticals from China. This poses a major risk of severe drug shortage if India’s diplomatic relations with China worsen. In fact in 2014, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had also warned the government about India’s over dependence on China for API and how tension between the two countries can cause a crisis in the public health systems of India.Following Doval’s alert, the government had formed a committee of experts to formulate a specific policy to boost API manufacturing in India. The list of regulatory and financial measures being planned by the government includes routine inspections of plants, higher registration charges, hike in licensing fees, tougher sourcing procedures, higher custom duties, and deeper scrutiny of supply chain. “We do not want the trade to cease between the two countries.The idea is to regulate small foreign players who may not be supplying quality products but giving pricing advantage. This in turn is hurting the interest of Indian patients as well as the industry. We want to create a level playing field for Indian companies and also ensure good quality products for Indian patients,” Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) G N Singh said.The regulator is planning to start site inspections from next month itself, he said. The government is also planning to make changes to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules soon to hike registration charges and licensing fees. Industry executives say Indian companies are subjected to much higher fees when they sell their products in China or in other countries but apart from imposing tougher norms on Chinese companies, the government must also take steps to boost the growth of Indian industry.Currently, API accounts for less than 10% of India’s over Rs 1 lakh crore pharmaceutical industry. However, India was once a favored destination for sourcing low-cost, good quality raw material for manufacturing medicines. Gradually, China has taken over this bulk drug market globally in the past few years by creating huge capacities.
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