Pharmaceutical Sector Current Affairs - 2019
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China has announced that it has clinched deal with India on reduction of tariffs (import duties) on Indian medicines including anti-cancer drugs. However, it is not yet clear whether it has agreed to grant licences to Indian companies to sell cancer drugs in its huge market.
Indian drugs, especially cancer-curing medicines are in big demand in China as they are far cheaper than their western counterparts. Earlier in May 2018, China had lifted tariffs on the import of cancer drugs. But it had failed to enthuses Indian pharmaceutical companies as they are not legally able to market their drugs in China as it requires licence from the country’s food and drug administration.
In recent times, China has announced series of measures to expand its economy by opening up it to outside world and actively expand imports to uphold free trade global regime and as measure to fight against protectionism. It also earlier had announced to cut on import duties on over 8,500 Indian items as part of measures under to relax taxes on more goods from India and other countries to absorb impact of trade war with United States (US) which has heated up.
India has been demanding the opening of China’s IT and pharmaceutical sectors as part of measures to reduce a US $51 billion trade deficit in over US $84 billion bilateral trade. Both countries have stepped up negotiations for Chinese imports of Indian rice, sugar and pharmaceuticals after informal meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in Wuhan.
World Health Organization (WHO) has invited pharmaceutical companies around the world to submit proposals to manufacture affordable versions of newer medicines for treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB). It has now requested drug makers to submit Expression of Interest (EoI) for Bedaquiline and Delaminid, two new-generation drugs, recommended for DR-TB. The aim of this proposal is to replicate success of addressing HIV epidemic. Under WHO norms, drugs submitted upon such requests and complying with its standards will be included in list for procurement by UN and other organisations.
India has nearly 1.3 lakh DR-TB patients, most in the world. Currently Health Ministry gets only 10,000 doses of Bedaquiline and 400 doses of Delaminid. These medicines are obtained as donations from Janssen (US) and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals (Japan), their respective manufacturers.
EoI considered by WHO for two drugs will be key compounds to address challenges of DR-TB. It will encourage generic competition to start finding ways to make these medicines available in countries where they are not yet registered. It will also allow generics manufacturers interested in producing these two drugs and currently facing technical challenges. The pre-qualification will ensure greater numbers of manufacturers are supplying quality medicines, which, in turn, means a more competitive market and more affordable prices.