India vaccine makers see China undercutting them

The World Health Organization gave Indian vaccine makers a shot in the arm by approving the industry to supply vaccines to international bodies such as it and UNICEF. While it will may mean significant new revenue for the growing industry, it hasn't kept them from looking over their shoulder at China, which seems to have India's vaccine market squarely in its target.

PV Appaji, director general of the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil), told journalists this week that in the past three years, China has significantly expanded capacity in vaccine manufacturing, the Economic Times reports.

It faces the same kind of challenge that India API makers now struggle with, having seen China grab much of that market with lower prices. 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, which Pharmexcil reports is a growing trend. Now it worries about losing vaccine business.

"China has come up with much larger capacity units which is a big worry for the entrepreneur driven Indian vaccine sector," Appaji said. "Unless the government comes forward to help Indian vaccine makers with capacity building by offering funds at affordable interest rates, adequate power supply and infrastructure Indian vaccine makers will not be able to meet the Chinese challenge."

Still, the Indian vaccine market is looking pretty healthy these days. It has a dozen major vaccine manufacturing facilities exporting to 150 countries, many in markets not funded by the United Nations. Forecasts from a recent report see the market growing nearly 150% by 2016, reaching $870 million from about $350 million today.

- read the Economic Times story