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Pharma exports soar 15% in first half of FY21

November 3, 2020

Pharmaceuticals exports from the country is on course to cross $23b for the first time this fiscal after growing 14.85% yoy at $11.78b in the first half, a senior commerce ministry official said.

“Going by the indications of demand for our pharma products across the globe, India is likely to maintain similar growth in pharmaceutical exports during the second half of the fiscal as well to close the fiscal with exports of at least $23b and may even touch $24b,” said Ravi Uday Bhaskar, DG, Pharmexcil.

The growth is driven by drug formulations and biologicals, shipment of which grew a record 21.85% year on year at $8.99 billion in the April-September period as countries across the globe turned to India to meet a spike in demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic that caused lockdowns and production disruptions in many parts of the world. For the first time in the history of Indian pharmaceutical exports, formulations and biologicals accounted for 76.3% of the total pharma exports this first half, up from around 72% a year ago.

India had exported pharmaceuticals worth $20.58 billion last fiscal.

“We had projected India to report $22 billion of pharmaceutical exports last fiscal but we fell short and ended up at $20.58 billion, owing to disruptions in logistics and lockdowns in various importing countries during Covid-19 pandemic in last quarter of fiscal ended March 2020,” Uday Bhaskar told ET.

Exports of bulk drugs, drug intermediates, Ayush, vaccines and surgicals declined marginally in the first half, owing to change in immediate healthcare focus of nations across the globe towards handling Covid-19 pandemic.

Bulk drugs and drug intermediates reported a fall of 4.5% at $1.87 billion during this first half, down from $1.96 billion last fiscal. “The fall in bulk drugs and drug intermediate exports can also be seen as a positive development since most Indian companies have used them for value addition to make high-margin and high-value formulations, adding to the overall growth of Indian pharmaceutical exports,” Uday Bhaskar said.

Exports of vaccines dipped 7.27% in the first half at $359.05 million while exports of surgicals and Ayush products remained almost flat, slipping 0.11% at $317.07 million and by 0.65% at $72.1 million, respectively.

“India exports vaccines mostly to meet the scheduled immunisation programmes to children by various countries and with the change in healthcare focus of these countries towards addressing Covid-19 pandemic, India saw a fall in vaccine exports,” said Uday Bhaskar. However, the country “may see a significant surge in export of vaccines this fiscal if it succeeds in introducing Covid-19 vaccine before the fiscal end”, he added.

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