India API makers complain about cheap Chinese imports

India is considered one of the low-cost production locations for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). Manufacturers there, however, say cheap Chinese APIs and intermediates are taking their business, and they need some government help to compete.

"Basically the threat is in terms of dependence on APIs and intermediates, which we predominately import from China. We need to develop and strengthen our API industry to develop cost-effective intermediaries," Ashutosh Gupta, vice chairman of the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India, known as Pharmexcil, told The Economic Times. He said there have been discussions with the central government about the need to boost the domestic industry.

In the 12 months that ended in February, Indian drug manufacturers imported about $3 billion worth of APIs and intermediaries, nearly $1.9 billion of that from China, according to The Economic Times, citing government stats. Officials didn't say how they might strengthen the industry but did refer to a change in European Commission (EC) rules that might give the industry a leg up.

In July, the European Union will begin requiring that all of the APIs and intermediaries that drugmakers there import be certified by the exporting country that the plant that made them has been inspected and meets EU standards. Indian officials have said they will be prepared for that change, while China has yet to indicate if it can get API makers inspected and certified by the deadline. API manufacturers in Europe, complaining themselves about low-cost imports, are leaning on the government to go further and require that all foreign plants be inspected by EU authorities or proxies like the FDA. 

- read The Economic Timesstory