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Laxmi Yadav, Mumbai July 07 , 2020
Even though pharma being a para medical business is playing courageously as a first line warrior to streamline production, manufacturing and supply of drugs to deal with COVID-19 pandemic, it is better placed to seize opportunities thrown up by the pandemic to ramp up exports, strengthen medical tourism and encourage medical diplomacy, say experts.
 
Currently, India’s leverage of massive drug production allows it to meet healthcare needs of other countries by boosting pharmaceutical exports. The country can also become a preferred medical tourist destination for those seeking affordable treatment in quality secondary/tertiary healthcare facilities. It can also pursue medical diplomacy by providing medical training and technical expertise to other developing countries whose healthcare systems are much worse than India, said Dr RB Smarta, chairman and managing director of Interlink Marketing Consulting.
 
Dr Smarta said India accounts for about 10% of world’s pharmaceutical production by volume and 1.5% by value. The industry is the world’s largest supplier of generic drugs and controls around 18% of the global market. Globally Indian drugs are in high demand due to its quality and affordability. Besides this, global NGOs such as UNICEF, UNITAID predominantly rely on cheap Indian generics for their aid programmes.
 
Hence its high time India’s pharmaceutical sector potentially increases trade partners both regionally and in other parts of the world. The government can promote it by funding research and development of drugs in the country and offer incentives to private players to increase their production for export purposes, he added.
 
He further said Indian pharma is seeking an opportunity to supersize its own ingredient manufacturing to combat Chinese dominance in the market. Indian government has plans to invest US$ 1.3 billion to ramp up production of generic domestically. It has identified and prioritized production of 53 raw materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) as part of its "China-plus-one" policy to fill in supply gaps of affordable medicines, said managing director of Interlink Marketing Consulting.
 
Talking about strengthening medical tourism, he said since 2014, it has been observed that the number of people coming to India for medical treatment has grown annually at about 55%. The Indian medical tourism industry is growing at 18% CAGR year on year and is expected to be worth US$ 9 billion by 2020. As per 2019 report, the Indian medical tourism had 18% global market share. Issuing fast-track medical visas and rapid airport clearance for medical treatments is a way ahead applied by Indian government to promote India as a better medical tourist destination.
 
Shedding light on medical diplomacy, Dr Smarta said “Post COVID-19 in the world, healthcare would emerge as a focal point for many nations across the world. Healthcare security will attract nations to seek competitive partners having facilities for providing essential drugs, medical proficiency and capability for medical-aid and service to other nations. Though a long way to go, it can prove a great beginning to reorient and outreach our services internationally.”

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