‘Buy US-made meds’ order may hurt desi pharma companies

India is one of the largest overseas suppliers of generic medicines to the US, with every third tablet sold from India: Experts

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Last Updated on August 9, 2020 by The Health Master

MUMBAI: US President Donald Trump’s order directing his government to increase procurement of indigenously-manufactured essential medicines, could hurt Indian Generic pharmaceutical companies once implemented, though there may not be an immediate impact.

At present, details are sketchy regarding its timeline and mechanism, but it may not be easy to implement, as India is one of the largest overseas suppliers of generic medicines to the US, with every third tablet sold from India, experts said.

Domestic generic pharma companies — already reeling with price erosion in the US every year — could be impacted significantly if there is further pressure on prices, analysts said, adding that it could just be “rhetoric, being a presidential year”. Trump signed an executive order to increase US production of essential medical supplies and cut down reliance on foreign producers of medicines. Under the order, government agencies will create a list of medicines and critical inputs that are essential for public health, and limit competition in government procurement of essential items.

In the short term, the order is not likely to impact domestic pharma companies mainly because it reportedly exempts drugs that are either not sufficiently and reasonably available in the US. Nearly 90% of certain critical life-saving antibiotics, steroids like Gabapentin, anti-diabetes drugs Metformin and painkillers like Ibuprofen are imported by the US from India and China. Each year, US imports $6-billion worth of formulations from India. Since Covid-19 struck, the US sought has sought huge quantities of paracetamol, anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine, and key antibiotics from India due to an increased demand.

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Further, it’s a long and arduous process stretching into several months till it comes into force, industry experts said, adding they are studying the fine print and will wait to see the details to know the full impact. “It’s not very clear on the quantum and specific areas or drugs it could hurt”, they stated, adding generic drugs are more affordable than the patented ones, hence may not be impacted much.

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