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Demand for Indian anti-cancer drugs in China set to increase in the coming years

The world needs affordable medicines

Demand for Indian anti-cancer drugs in China could increase significantly in the coming years.

Last month, India’s Ambassador to China Vikram Misri in a tweet said that the Chinese authorities allowed sale of anti cancer drug Abirateron, manufactured by Dr Reddy’s Lab in their domestic markets.

“Some good news this week—a breakthrough for the Indian pharmaceutical industry in China as #Abiraterone by drreddys becomes the first anti-cancer drug from #India to enter the Chinese market. Expect more success on this front,” Misri tweeted.

Sources said that a few other Indian pharma companies are in talks for expanding the supply of these crucial drugs.

In 2018, Beijing has also removed import tariffs on Indian-made generic drugs including those required to treat cancer patients.

Also read: Europe, USA only regions in world to record rise in Covid-19 cases, says WHO report

“The ones made in India are also expensive but when compared to the drugs manufactured by the developed countries, they are competitively priced,” a medical expert said.

According to the Chinese Medical Journal, since China has a population of 1.4 billion, even minimal increases in incidence or mortality rates indicate great threats to individuals at risk and a significant economic burden. The country accounted for 24 per cent of overall newly diagnosed cases and 30 per cent of the cancer-related deaths worldwide in 2020.

Comprehensive strategies are urgently needed to target China's changing profiles of the cancer burden.

It is estimated that the number of new cancer cases reached 19.3 million globally, and nearly 10 million people died from cancer in 2020.

According to Allied Market Research, high cost involved in new cancer drug development coupled with threat of failure and adverse effects associated with cancer drugs therapies are a cause for concern in development of the segment. “Conversely, high potential of emerging economies and increase in the number of pipeline products are expected to provide new opportunities for market players in future,” it said.

Insiders said that Indian pharma majors will play an important role in this.

India, pharmacy of the world

India is already the world's largest generic drugs supplier. In terms of volume, Indian drugs comprised 20 per cent of the global generic drug exports, out of which North America had the largest share, data collation portal Statista noted. In terms of overall pharma products, India ranks thirds after the US and China.

Also read: US giant Merck allows generic manufacture of its new medicine for Covid, 5 Indian firms in list

While India’s exports of pharma products touched $24.4 billion in 2020-21 registering a growth of 18.4 per cent, outbound shipment in the last few months has “somewhat slowed down.”

“There is no cause for concern yet as last year was an exceptional year due to the outbreak of Covid 19 pandemic. However, it is also important to keep a constant note of this to ensure we do not lose the momentum,” Ajay Sahai, Director general, Federation of Indian Export Organisation told India Narrative.

Sahai said that demand for India’s anti cancer drugs is on a steady increase.