India : The Rising Star of Global Pharmaceuticals

admin March 13, 2014 Comments

As bodybuilders we are often forced to look for alternative avenues to find medications necessary for proper hormone supplementation, as well as other types of performance enhancing supplements. Unless it’s an endocrinologist, most general practitioner doctors have to have a basic understanding of every facet of the body, and often times do not fully understand the operations and intricacies of it’s very complex hormonal system.  Because of this, when a fully healthy looking male comes in and is asking for breast cancer or fertility drugs, to the old-school traditionalist it raises some red flags. While a young athlete or health enthusiast is being shunned or possibly even facing legal consequences for their attempt at supplementing as optimally as possible, it is fully acceptable for the forty-something rich people to get special “T” therapy as long as they can afford to pay the doctors and pharmaceutical companies their cut.

Most of these regulations are under the guise of American consumer safety, with little acknowledgment of the large economic and political implications. But when we really look into it, is restricting access to necessary medications at affordable prices in the best interest of the people the government claims to be watching out for? The reality of the situation is thanks to the strict US regulations supported by the big wallets of American pharmacological lobbyists, we pay an unnecessary and exceptionally larger cost  for drugs produced within the United States than they are truly worth. Looking beyond the health implications (which should come first and foremost,) one could possibly defend the economics of the situation and say that we are supporting American business, but in reality what are the benefits? None of these profits (generated by artificial government regulations) go back into making the drugs more affordable for the American consumer, or anything that would suggest these regulations are about American health, and even the wealth isn’t being spread but instead continues to concentrate. It would seem most of these laws are means to artificially inflate the costs of domestically produced drugs while eliminating international competition. These inflated profits go directly to the pockets of shareholders of the companies that produce these drugs, and as we have seen time and time again there is no “trickle down effect,” the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

Thanks to the rapid development of technology there are many alternative methods and means of access quickly developing for people in the field of health and beyond, even as US regulators try to shut them down. The Internet is one of the most powerful tools someone can have and as it develops we are capable of achieving levels of access / care previously unimaginable. What this increased global connectivity has done is given us as consumers direct access to a large pool of distributors and manufacturers previously only reserved for those willing to scour the globe, as well as the ability to choose and have options in our consumption, one of the most democratic concepts out there. This also benefits the producers by providing them with access to consumers, and so regions that are highly productive and have the labor force but previously economically isolated have started to open up, one of the biggest beneficiaries of this development is India. As consumers and bodybuilders we should take a better look and at least know where our medications are coming from rather than subscribe to the hype of the American Pharmacological Lobbies.

Although India only accounts for a 1-2% share of the global pharmaceutical market, there are still a lot of things about the Indian pharma business that a discerning observer might find interesting.

1. There are over 1000 pharmaceutical companies in India with over 10,000 brands – and what they do really well, is to sell cheap generic drugs – that have found a fast growing market not only in the developed West, but also in some of the poorest countries in the world.

2. India sells a total of $15 Billion (approximately) in generic medicine annually, and this number increases at a rate of 10% every year. In fact, generic drugs represent 90% of India’s total pharmaceutical business.

3.India is the second-biggest exporter of over-the-counter and prescription drugs to the United States, accounting for over 40% of the generic drugs sold in the country.

4.The pharmaceutical industry is one of the best employers in India, along with IT services, and a job in a pharmaceutical company is highly sought after.

5.When it comes to pharmaceutical products, India enjoys a massive trade surplus.

Profitable – But Frosty.

It is a fact that Indian generic drug companies make most of their money in the United States, which is perhaps more important to them than even the Indian market, in a lot of ways. However, the relationship between them and the US F.D.A. has been quite tense and frosty of late. Many Indian companies have come under increasing attention of US regulators for a variety of lapses – ranging from what the US regulators claim to be “falsified drug test results”, export of fake medicine and serious violations in maintaining the right manufacturing conditions in their plants. In fact, the F.D.A. has been very busy recently, investigating Indian drug manufacturing plants, inspecting as many as 160 in 2013. This has led to a lot of criticism of the F.D.A . in India, with many questioning the agency’s motives. Regardless, this has had only a nominal impact on the fast growing sales of Indian generic medicine to the United States.

Guts, Grit and Enterprise.

The history of the Indian pharmaceutical industry, has to be one of buccaneering entrepreneurs, operating on a shoestring budget, fighting the rapacious socialist Indian state, and its huge anti-business bureaucracy, yet coming out with rapid product innovations, hustling for a greater market share, and managing not only to survive (which in itself is an achievement), but to thrive and prosper, and even dominate. In a way, the bigger Indian

pharmaceutical companies share a lot in common with their counterparts in the US, with most of them starting as tiny start-ups. Companies like Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories, Cipla, Wockhardt, Ranbaxy, Sun Pharmaceuticals and Lupin, are all entrepreneur driven, are aggressive, nimble and highly ambitious.

Challenges ahead.

The greatest challenge to Indian generic drug makers comes from regulators all over the world – whether at home in India, or in the West. Global pharmaceuticals is a highly regulated industry with tonnes of laws, and a plenty of fine print. Success in this industry means having to wade through a proverbial legal quagmire, and passing through a maze of bureaucracy. And then, there is a rising competition from China, which can hardly be ignored. The future for the Indian generic medicine industry, looks promising – but tense.