The PLI program is good, but more needs to be done to stimulate API research
Pharmaceutical manufacturing is a capital-intensive business. Although India is a major player in the manufacture of pharmaceutical formulations, “there is still a huge gap in the production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) in India. The country currently depends on China and other countries for much of its APIs, losing huge The government needs to step in and support the industry by building research and manufacturing capacity so that the country can begin to meet its API demands locally,” says Sanjeev Jain, MD, Akums Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Ltd in an interview with Bizz Buzz. Akums Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Ltd is a Contract Research and Manufacturing Company (CRAMS)
You recently acquired a facility from Ankur Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Limited. How will the acquisition help Akums?
As one of India’s leading pharmaceutical companies, Akums Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Limited is always on the lookout for significant expansion and growth opportunities. The acquisition of the Ankur Drugs & Pharmaceuticals plant aims to increase our production capacity by reaching 6 billion units of tablets and more than 90 million units of oral liquids each year. This is aimed at helping India achieve the desired boost in the export market which is currently valued at $24.6 billion and currently growing at a rate of 18.7%.
Tablets and oral liquids are the two important dosage forms in therapeutic areas and patient profile. Tablets constitute 52% of the market by value and 9% of oral liquid according to AIOCD AWACS data.
But it’s not just about facilities and equipment; we are also very concerned about the development of human capacities. We invest heavily in staff training, research, and other programs that expose our employees and researchers to industry trends, as well as uncharted territory. This explains why we have several innovative products like fast dissolving antacid powder, painless progesterone injection, medicinal jellies and chewing gums. So, with such acquisition of facilities, we have greatly expanded our capacity.
How would European Union (EU) Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) approval for two Akums manufacturing units in Haridwar help the company?
Akums already has a very strong national image in India, and this is largely due to the fact that we have always been quality conscious. Every choice we make is based on our belief in a quality first approach. Although we have been approved for this quality by our partners who are also leading Indian and multinational pharmaceutical companies, the latest EU GMP is very widely recognized and accepted. These are the same manufacturing plants that serve the domestic market and have received European Union approvals. With EU GMP approval for two of our manufacturing plants in Haridwar, Akums is well positioned not only for the Indian domestic market but also to serve the international market. This is a step towards becoming a global contract development and manufacturing company (CDMO).
Our quality standards are in line with international best practice, which gives us the advantage of serving regulated markets and supplying safe and potent drugs to pharmaceutical companies around the world.
Has the PLI Scheme helped the pharmaceutical sector?
Pharmaceutical manufacturing is a capital-intensive business. Although India is a major player in the manufacture of pharmaceutical formulations, there is still a huge gap in the production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) in India. The country currently depends on China and other countries for a large part of its APIs, thereby losing huge foreign currencies. As a leader in the pharmaceutical formulations industry, this is one of our concerns. The government must step in and support the industry by building research and manufacturing capacity so that the country can begin to meet its API demands locally.
The PLI program and other incentives offered by state governments are good steps in the right direction. There is a need to maintain such programs to help manufacturers fully align with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to boost India’s pharmaceutical exports. Akums plays a huge role in the pharmaceutical ecosystem in India as a fully certified and renowned contract manufacturing company with world class facilities, and we are happy with the PLI program so far, but much more can be done. to stimulate API research and manufacturing.
Where do you see the pharmaceutical sector in the next five years, in 2027-28 to be precise?
The prospects are very exciting for India. The pharmaceutical industry has grown tremendously over the past 20 years and we have achieved significant milestones along the way. The industry is currently valued at $42 billion and is expected to grow to over $120 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of approximately 11%. Essentially, this growth trajectory will be propelled by increased exports and pharmaceutical formulations to even more regulated and semi-regulated markets.
However, we should not ignore domestic markets. There will also be an increase in domestic demand for many therapies. We will also see plenty of activity in the API and Key Commodity (KSM) segments. We expect an increase in domestic manufacturing, aided by better contract research opportunities so the country can achieve import substitution.
With the right support and incentives, India can become an even greater pharmaceutical powerhouse and replicate the status of Atma Nirbhar in the pharmaceutical industry. It starts with extensive research and expansion capability to increase the export of pharmaceutical formulations and APIs. Furthermore, with the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian pharmaceutical industry must position itself to be always ready for health emergencies.
Where do you see Akums in terms of revenue in 2027-28?
As for Akums Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Limited, we are committed to maintaining and even exceeding our growth trajectory which has remained at an average CAGR of 20% over the past five years. The plan is to serve existing customers much better and build on our excellence and professionalism over the years, while increasing dosage form capabilities, moving into new therapies, dosage forms and markets, and increasing our share of export, among other expected deliverables.