In its first-ever official level discussions with Sri Lanka on the proposed pharmaceutical manufacturing hub, which has now excited the Lankan private sector, India has given a strong, structured recommendation on the way forward for Sri Lanka’s dream: Focus on the huge global market first.
“I don’t say that the local market of Sri Lanka is less important, but to get Sri Lanka’s pharma hub moving, modelling on the Indian experience, I stress that it is better to focus on export-oriented manufacturing aimed at the huge $ 956 b global pharma market.
Then source international investments here such as JVs and thereafter bring in the required critical technology for both bulk and formulation manufacturing,” advised Dr. P.V. Appaji, Director General of Pharmexcil of India, who is currently in Sri Lanka leading a high-level Indian pharmaceutical delegation to the country.
Dr. Appaji, who arrived with his team last morning, gave this advice on the same day to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Industry and Commerce team led by Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Jayarathna Herath during a special in-depth meeting (which is also the first official meeting between India and Sri Lanka on the proposed pharmaceutical hub in Sri Lanka) held between the visiting delegation and the Ministry’s team.
The local team consisted of Secretary Anura Siriwardena, high ranking officials from the Ministry’s Department of Commerce and reps from top 10 Sri Lankan pharma manufacturers such as CIC Holdings and Astron Ltd. Minister Herath was deputising for Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.
The visiting Indian team is the largest of its kind to arrive in Sri Lanka in the country’s trade history and has arrived as a result of a directive by Indian Minister of Industry, Commerce and Textiles Anand Sharma.
During the recent high level Indian trade delegation to Colombo led by Minister Sharma, he announced that a special Indian pharmaceutical delegation would be arriving on 15 August in Colombo to set up the proposed pharmaceutical manufacturing hub in Sri Lanka.
The Indian team is led by Pharmexcil, the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India, which has been set up by Minister Sharma’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry and is India’s powerful promoter of its $ 10 b pharmaceutical exports.
Welcoming the delegation, Deputy Minister Herath said: “We warmly welcome the strong delegation from India and as our Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen already announced, your arrival in such a short period shows Minister Sharma’s sincerity to implement the proposed pharma hub in Sri Lanka and to increase bilateral trade levels.”
Ministry Secretary Siriwardene addressing the delegation added: “We welcome you to develop our pharmaceutical manufacturing sector here. We have no doubts that you can upgrade our pharma industry in terms of quality, quality and diversity as we find there is a huge gap between domestic demand and supply and also potentials for export manufacturing. Let us partner for win-win outcome.”
During his presentation, Dr. Appaji revealed: “On a year-on-year basis, India’s pharma exports to Sri Lanka increased by 15.95% in 2011 to $ 126.9 m, of which 93% were formulations followed by bulk (7%) and herbals (0.15%).
The top three drugs sent to Sri Lanka from India are Amoxycilline (antibiotic), glucose liquid, and diloxanide furoate (for intestine/stomach issues). Our data shows Singapore (30.3%), China (28.6%), India (24.8%), Germany (4.5%), and Netherlands (3.1%) to be the top five suppliers on Sri Lanka’s bulk drug (pharmaceutical ingredients/raw material used to produce tablets, pills, syrups, etc.).”
Advising on the possible best pharma manufacturing strategy for Sri Lanka, Dr. Appaji added: “It is better to focus on export oriented manufacturing aimed at the huge $ 956 billion global pharma market which is growing by 5% annually and expected to be $ 1200 b by 2016. In fact, we are talking of $ 1.1 trillion global generic drug opportunity here. Just like India, Sri Lanka can also aim at exporting into this growth opportunity.”
Outlining the Sri Lankan pharmaceutical sector, Siriwrdene said: “The size of the local (Sri Lankan) market is $ 190 m (Rs. 25 billion) with local manufacturers’ contribution around $ 38 m (Rs. 5 billion). Demand growth is estimated to be 10-15% from 2011 to 2015. The pharma foreign investors can also make use of the concessions from FTAs Sri Lanka has with India and Pakistan, BIMSTEC and the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement.”