Shortcomings of Indian Chemical Industry: TIFAC
- 20 Aug 2020
- 4 min read
Why in News
Recently, a report by the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) has highlighted the shortcomings of the Indian chemical industry which prove to be barriers in competing with China.
- TIFAC is an autonomous organisation and think-tank of the Department of Science and Technology and it commissioned the report in March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic had started accelerating in India.
- India does not have enough technology, plants and infrastructure to manufacture key chemicals in a cost-effective and less polluting manner.
- India has nearly stopped manufacturing several key Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API).
- India has given up the manufacturing of APIs for ascorbic acid, aspartame and antibiotics like rifampicin, doxycycline, tazobactam acid and even steroids.
- Production of intermediates such as atorvastatin, chloroquine, gabapentin, ciprofloxacin, cephalosporins, immunosuppressants has also been stopped.
- India depends on China for 67% of chemical intermediates and API that it needs to manufacture drugs and export.
- India also depends on the USA and Italy for API.
- The chemical industry is almost entirely dependent on China for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ).
- Hydroxychloroquine is an oral drug used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
- In March 2020, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) suggested its use to contain the spread of Covid-19 for restricted populations.
- Manufacturers are unable to meet the price at which chemicals are produced by China.
- Solvent and chemicals manufacturing costs in India are over 15% more than in China.
- The share of Indian bulk drugs and intermediates in the total pharmaceutical export mix reduced to 20% in 2018 from 42% in 2008.
Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients
- These are significant ingredients in the manufacturing of drugs and are also called bulk drugs.
- The Hubei province of China is the hub of the API manufacturing industry.
- These are chemical compounds which form the building blocks of the APIs and are produced as a by-product during the production of API.
- Need for mission mode chemical engineering with defined targets for uninterrupted synthesis of API molecules.
- Creation of mega drug manufacturing clusters with common infrastructure in India.
- Development of a technology platform for biocatalysis for cost optimization and investing in the fermentation sector of large capacity.
- Biocatalysis refers to the use of natural substances from biological sources (such as enzymes) to speed up (catalyze) chemical reactions.
- Government encouragement for Indian companies working in chemical segments.
- Implementation of various recommendations by TIFAC will help India to become Atmanirbhar (self-reliant) in the pharmaceutical sector by reducing its import dependence.
- More schemes like the Promotion of Bulk Drug Parks and Production Linked Incentives (PLI) are needed to reduce the manufacturing cost of bulk drugs and promote domestic manufacturing.