APIs...Lifeblood of the Pharma Industry

By Tim Wright, Editor | January 28, 2016

The global active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) market is expected to reach the $200 billion mark by 2020 from where it stands today at about $150 billion. Forecast to grow at a healthy CAGR of 6.5%, according to a report published by MarketsandMarkets, factors keeping with overall pharmaceutical industry trends, such as the increasing incidence of life style and age related diseases, increasing prevalence of cancer across the world, technological advancements in API manufacturing and emerging markets for biosimilars are just some trends that are driving market growth.

Anchoring the issue as we kick of the New Year is an expert overview of the API industry. Enrico Polastro from Arthur D. Little weighs in on APIs, the lifeblood of the pharmaceutical industry. While the API market is growing at a healthy tick, it is characterized by marked differences in terms of its geography. These geographic nuances are really what’s pushing and pulling the API industry.

Mr. Polastro says the decline of the Western pharmaceutical fine chemicals industry noted over the last few years can be traced to multiple factors including, among other things, waves of investments in China and India, which are encouraged either directly or indirectly by the local authorities eager to promote industrial developments and exports.

In addition, increasing hurdles facing pharmaceutical fine chemicals operations in Western countries are driving up costs as well as investment outlays. There is no comparable burden facing Chinese and Indian players.

Keeping with the API theme, Contract Pharma’s Mumbai-based columnist, S. Harachand, says that the government there is promising a comprehensive plan to infuse a fresh dose of vigor into the country’s API sector. He says in recent years the industry has witnessed several API makers, especially small to medium players, withdraw from the scene unable to sustain operations due to intense competition in the pricing front and import surge. The Indian government declared 2015 as The Year of Bulk Drugs early last year and set up an expert committee to map out strategies to make India self-reliant on APIs.

With a combined population of nearly 3 billion people, China and India represent the largest drug markets in the world. Yet, speaking to China specifically, Stuart Rose, founder and chief executive officer of PaizaBio, a CMO focused on helping western-based pharmaceutical companies manufacture drugs in China for the Chinese market, says Western pharmaceutical companies have only a small foothold there largely because China is a complicated environment for Western companies to operate.

However, major new policies implemented by China’s FDA reflect its growing willingness to engage multinationals in their drug development initiatives and allow contract manufacturing of new drugs in China for the Chinese market. 

Tim Wright, Editor

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