By Cristhian Salamanca
After 2.5 years of virtual activities, a delegation of more than 60 Indian pharmaceutical companies headed to Latin America led by Pharmexcil. Their first stop was in Bogotá DC, from August 1 to 2, with the aim of opening up new collaboration and business opportunities with Colombian companies. After Colombia, the delegation traveled to other countries in the region, including Bolivia, Peru and Brazil.
India’s pharmaceutical industry exports over $20 billion worth of pharmaceutical products worldwide, with a large portion of the exports going to developed and regulated markets such as the United States and the European Union. India’s pharmaceutical exports to Latin America have reached USD 1.4 billion over the past two years, with Colombia being the third largest destination for Indian pharmaceutical exports in Latin America, although India ranks 7th in the list of the main countries of origin of imports. pharmaceutical products behind the United States, Germany and China.
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The 2-day session was organized by Pharmexcil, the Colombia-India Chamber of Commerce and the Embassy of India in Colombia, with the support of the Embassy of Colombia in India, the Pharmaceutical Cluster of the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá, Ministry of Health of Colombia, Procolombia, ANDI and Invima. Intense business meetings between 120 Colombian companies with Indian businessmen served to explore new business alliances and renew traditional trade relations between the countries, which were ongoing before the pandemic. Potential businesses over US$500,000 have been identified.
All over the world, despite the situation due to the pandemic, the pharmaceutical and medical device industry has not been affected like other sectors of the economy. On the contrary, it is estimated that by 2024, global health expenditure will increase from 2.8% to 4.0%. The Colombia-India relationship is no exception.
In the financial year 2020-2021, Indian pharmaceutical exports to Colombia reached USD 106.32 million, an increase of 10.36%. And in fiscal year 2021-22, the figure reached $150.42 million, an increase of 41.48%.
The Colombian pharmaceutical sector has consolidated itself as an important hub in the region. Its market size is USD 5.5 billion (2021) and it is expected to reach USD 6.38 billion (2026). The size of its generics market is USD 2.0 billion (2021), which represents 36% of the market, the remaining 49% for patented drugs and 15% for OTC. The predicted generics market is 2.54 billion USD (2026).
Another important aspect of this market is its health coverage of the population, which according to the Ministry of Health of Colombia, the country has been consolidated as one with the highest percentage of insurance in the provision of its health services. health, reaching 99.6% of the country’s population. (49.7 million inhabitants), which makes it a very attractive market.
It also has the presence of 161 international GMP certified pharmaceutical manufacturers (January 2021). The main export destinations for Colombian pharmaceutical products are Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Mexico, the United States and Chile, with an annual growth (in volume) of 11%. Transnational companies like Abbott, Pfizer, Fresenius, MSD have been established in the country for many years. Indian companies like Dr. Reddy’s, MSN Labs, IPCA, Aurobindo, Glenmark, Hetero, Cipla, among others, are also present in the country.
Recently, VaxThera (Medellín, Colombia), entered into an alliance with the Indian company Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Ltd. (Pune, India) to strengthen research, development and local production of vaccines and biologicals, both for Colombia and for the rest of Latin America. An important step that reveals the potential of the pharmaceutical sector. In this sense, there are many opportunities for both countries.
India is one of the largest producers of generic antiretrovirals, given the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country. Generics made in India are competitive in terms of price and good quality. Furthermore, India has a strong range of all these therapeutic areas related to NCDs with the most affordable prices meeting the best regulatory standards.
Indian exporters can gain better access to the Latin American market by operating from Colombia, including manufacturing (offshoring of the value chain) as Colombia has free trade agreements with key markets for pharmaceuticals like El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras; Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay; Mexico and the United States; countries with which we have shared similar time zones and languages such as Spanish and English.
Colombia also has one of the most skilled labor forces in the Andean Community and Latin America and, among many other countries in the region, has the lowest barriers to foreign direct investment and has a free zone regime (SEZ in India), with a total of 120 across the country, with very attractive tax incentives for companies. Drug approval times through Invima remain one of the fastest in Latin America, providing additional appeal for foreign manufacturers of innovative drugs. Complying with local regulations for pharmaceuticals facilitates the process of getting health records approved in other markets. Moreover, Indian FDA/EMA approved companies facilitate local registration before Invima.
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Other opportunities on the horizon are the creation of clinical research centers with new technologies; API manufacturers; logistics and production centers; sophisticated production centers for biotechnology and biosimilar drugs; investment in the production of veterinary pharmaceuticals.
It is also possible to carry out mergers and acquisitions of companies, strategic business alliances and representation agreements with local companies, saving time and experience.
After COVID-19, bringing production closer to its end consumer is starting to look like an increasingly common practice for post-pandemic entrepreneurs, and Colombia could be your next destination.
(The author is a senior executive, with over 12 years of experience in cross-cultural management and promoting international business with India. An international speaker, he talks about business, innovation and design. He is also Executive Director of the British-Indian Chamber of Commerce. Opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)