India's hesitance to condemn Russia puts the country's pharma industry in compromising position

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put India in a compromising position. To protect itself against China, India has courted favor with both the European Union and Russia. With those powers on opposing sides regarding the invasion, now what?

As India’s prime minister Narendra Modi faces increasing pressure from the west to condemn Russia, the country’s booming pharma industry also has come under scrutiny.

Many pharma companies in India do extensive business with Russia and Ukraine. Last fiscal year, for example, India exported more than $591 million worth of pharma goods to Russia and $181 million to Ukraine, Business Standard reports. Those figures represented growth rates of 7% and 44% respectively from year to year.

While many western companies—including McDonald’s, Samsung, Amazon, Paypal, Coca-Cola and Starbucks—have stopped doing business in Russia, those in India are in a more difficult position.

None of the companies in India, pharma or otherwise, have pulled out of Russia, according to Reuters.

Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, for example, told Reuters that it is bracing for disruptions in sales but has not taken any action against the country. Dr. Reddy’s manufactures and distributes Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine in India.

“We have had a presence in the region for over three decades,” a Dr. Reddy’s spokesman told the Press Trust of India two weeks ago in a statement that was repeated this week to Reuters. “Ensuring the well-being of our staff is our first and foremost priority, along with measures to meet patient needs and business continuity. We are monitoring evolving developments closely and preparing accordingly.”

Indian pharmaceutical companies such as Sun Pharma, Divis, Cipla and Lupin did not respond immediately to Fierce Pharma's requests for comment. Executives from Torrent Pharmaceuticals and Zydus Healthcare said that they have not seen a change in sales since the start of the conflict, said Reuters.

Despite the exodus from Russia by many companies from the west, few from the pharma sector have followed suit. AstraZeneca of the U.K. and Sanofi of France, for example, have continued business as usual in Russia, The Pharma Letter reported earlier this week.