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Unveiling the True Potential of the Indian Life Sciences Sector

04 Oct 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic was a turning point for the global healthcare system. Today, healthcare has not only taken center stage, fortifying the healthcare ecosystem has become the topmost priority for the world. 

The life sciences sector is an integral part of the healthcare ecosystem. The biotechnology industry was valued at USD 63 billion in 2019 and is projected to touch a whopping USD 150 billion by 2025. The Indian biotechnology industry made a contribution of 3% to the global industry in 2017, which is expected to jump to 19% by 2025.

Many factors including low manufacturing costs and high global demand for affordable drugs as well as availability of skilled manpower make India a promising manufacturing hub for pharmaceuticals.   

The growth of the life sciences sector relies heavily on research and development. Due to unprecedented crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of innovation in medicine and investments in R&D has risen multi-fold. 

Other significant issues pertaining to pricing, distributor consolidation and growing competition demand urgent attention and need to be resolved at the earliest.

To identify a roadmap for the Indian biosimilars industry and take it to its maximum growth potential, CII in collaboration with A T Kearney has published the report “Taking India’s life science to the global stage: ‘Make in India’ to fuel 4x growth in biosimilars and vaccines by 2026.” The report identifies the challenges faced by the industry and suggests possible solutions, with the aim to translate them into actionable policy points that will strengthen the policy ecosystem of the country and act as growth drivers for the sector. 

Action points for transformation of the biosimilars industry 

The report states that the Indian industry caters to just 1.5% of the total global biosimilars demand through exports; however, it has the potential to grow and reach 10%. 

To achieve optimum growth for the sector, the report identifies nine specific areas that have the potential to transform the Indian biosimilars industry and help it gain prominence at the global level. 

Innovation mindset to action 

Innovation reserves a key place in the bio-pharma industry. India has achieved quite a lot when it comes to frugal innovation, but it’s yet to make its mark in discovery research. 

Suggested steps: 

– Gaining access to risk capital for mid-stage biotech startups to help them grow. 

– Strengthening the policy ecosystem to enhance the cash status of biotech companies that are already established. 

– Nurturing human resources with reforms in higher education, targeted Government initiatives and greater industry efforts. 

– Ensuring Indian bio-clusters are at par with global standards. 

Cost competitiveness to cost leadership 

India’s biosimilars industry has continued to remain cost-competitive at the global level, however, it needs to adopt new methods and take steps to emerge as a price leader.

Suggested steps: 

– Home-production of raw materials will be a step towards reducing imports. 

– Reforms in Intellectual Property Rights regime, along with Government incentives, will help promote India as a global hub. 

– Introduction of new reforms in regulatory processes will reduce time and cost. 

Level playing field to market excellence 

Indian biosimilar companies are facing multiple challenges to establish themselves in advanced markets.

Suggested steps: 

– Increasing focus on excellence will help to reinstate the image of Indian pharmaceuticals. 

– Forging global partnerships by means of collaborations and consortiums will help in developing capabilities. 

The Indian life sciences industry must emphasize on ‘value over volume’ to strengthen its position in the world market. To ensure this, the focus on innovation must be increased. 

India’s vaccine production capabilities also present an enormous business opportunity on the basis of volume share. The report envisages that the Indian biosimilars industry could double in size in the coming five years, capturing USD 4 – 5 billion in the global market. For deeper insights and information, read the report here.