After a lull during the lockdown in March-April, exports of drugs and pharmaceuticals surged 19 per cent in May.
According to data from the Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council (Pharmaexcil) and the Ministry of Commerce, drug and pharma exports in May rose to ?14,959 crore, from ?11,758 crore in the same month last year.
According to R Uday Bhaskar, Director-General, Pharmexcil, apart from formulations, export of paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine in the wake of the pandemic has also driven exports.
“Another factor could be the easing of the export scenario in May compared the lockdown period of March-April. Some exports which could not be done in March-April must have taken place in the month of May. This lag-affect also pushed up overall exports,’’ he said.
The surge in exports should be good news given the trend in the previous months of the calender year. There was reduction of exports in February and March. While February saw growth of 7.7 per cent, exports declined 23.24 per cent in March affecting the overall performance of exports in the pharma industry for the year FY20.
Due to the lockdown, the last quarter saw negative growth of 3 per cent without which the overall growth for the full year would have been around 11 per cent as the growth in the first nine months in FY20 was at 11.5 per cent.
The country’s pharmaceutical exports increased 7.57 per cent in the financial year ended March 31, at $20.58 billion, against $19.13 billion in the previous year.
The Covid-19 impact might augur well for the Indian pharma sector. “The growth registered in May is likely to sustain to an extent in the coming months,” he said.
“The prospects of exports of Remdesivir and Dexamethasone will also push up exports further in the coming months. Most of the countries are using anti-virals for treatment of Covid-19 in which India is strong,’’ Bhaskar said.
Many Indian firms, including Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and Hetero, have entered into agreements to manufacture and export Remdesivir.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Sunday called for an increase in production of dexamethasone, an inexpensive steroid, which, after clinical trials, has “shown life-saving potential for critically ill Covid-19 patients”.
Indian drug makers have strong production capabilities for this drug which may bring in more export opportunities.