Indian policies to promote local production of pharmaceutical products and protect public health
(2017; 60 pages)


This report addresses the dichotomy between India’s successful local pharmaceutical manufacturing sector and the situation regarding access to medicines among poorer parts of India’s population. The India Government allocates a relatively small proportion of its budget to health care in general, and to medicines procurement in particular. While medicines may nominally be free of charge to the poor, they are not necessarily available. Most medicine-related purchases in the country involve out-of-pocket expenses for patients. Some state governments, such as in Tamil Nadu for example, have universal health care programmes that appear to be performing well in terms of providing access to medicines. But these successful state programmes are exceptions. This report notes that there is not necessarily a direct correlation between successful local manufacturing and public access to medicines, and in the case of India the Government should be doing more in terms of commitment of resources to providing medicines for the poorer parts of the population. Nevertheless, a successful local industry has certainly proven of great benefit to individuals in other developing countries to which India has exported low-priced generic versions of medicines that were simultaneously subject to patent in high-income countries. While opportunities for export of off-patent versions of medicines patented elsewhere are today more limited, Indian manufacturers continue to produce and distribute medicines when corresponding patents are not in force in India, as well as under license through the Medicines Patent Pool, for example, again providing a substantial benefit to individuals in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) around the world.

This report provides details of the specific policies and measures that have been adopted and implemented in India that have impacted local production of medicines. It concludes with a summary of those policies and measures. One important element of India’s pharmaceutical policy involves the creation of special economic zones to enable common use of infrastructure resources, and to confer other industry-specific benefits. This report concludes by suggesting that countries in Africa might consider the establishment of a regional economic zone dedicated to pharmaceutical manufacturing to take advantage of this type of industrial policy and infrastructure measure.

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