Q.“Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” Analyse this statement in light of India’s pharmaceutical capabilities and responsibilities amid the novel coronavirus pandemic across the world.09 Apr, 2020 GS Paper 4 Theoretical Questions
- Discuss India’s position in the global pharmaceuticals sector.
- Mention the issues involved like rising demand for medicines, the moral obligation of India and challenges.
- Mention India’s response to the global crisis.
- Conclude the answer with advantages associated.
Indian Pharmaceuticals Sector
- India is a prominent and rapidly growing presence in global pharmaceuticals. It is the largest provider of generic medicines globally, occupying a 20% share in global supply by volume, and also supplies 50% of global demand for vaccines.
- India is the source of 60,000 generic brands across 60 therapeutic categories and manufactures more than 500 different Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).
- India ranks 3rd worldwide for production by volume and 13th by value, thereby accounting for around 10% of world’s production by volume and 1.5% by value.
- Pandemic Outspread: The entire world is facing Coronavirus Pandemic spread and most of the developed countries are struggling to contain it.
- Rising demand for medicines: recently India has been requested by the US and around 30 countries including Brazil and several SAARC nations for a supply of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ).
- HCQ is an anti-parasitic medication that has been available since the 1940s. It has been used to treat malaria.
- According to the price and drug availability watchdog, the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA), India has a production capacity of 40 metric tonnes, which means 20 crore tablets of 200 mg per month.
- Moral obligation of India: the utilitarian principle i.e “the greatest benefit to the greatest number”, says it is the responsibility of any nation to support the other nation for a humanitarian cause.
- Challenges for India: despite being a leading supplier of high-quality medicines to several countries, Indian pharmaceutical industry is highly dependent on China for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) i.e. pharmaceutical raw materials.
- Any distortion in API import would lead to a shortfall of essential medicine supply in India.
- Recent Initiatives: Indian has relaxed the ban on the export of hydroxychloroquine. It has stated that it would supply drugs to countries that needed it the most, and to neighbours who were dependent on India’s capabilities.
- Pragmatic approach: India’s approach should be calculative and based on the ‘quid pro quo'; especially with the developed nation who are having their expertise in manufacturing ventilators and other essential equipment.
- Being a major economic player in the South-Asian region, India is morally obliged to support the under-developed SAARC nations in their fight against the pandemic.
- India’s decision to selectively allow export is a welcome step as India would be recognised as a globally responsible stakeholder in the fight against the pandemic and reaffirms India's designation of pharmacy to the world.
- This will indeed strengthen India’s soft power strategy it has pursued so assiduously since the 1990s and it will also re-establish the age-old concept of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', the world is one family, which gives India an identity different from all other countries.
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