India for long has been pressing China to open its pharmaceutical market which is under pressure from the public for the high prices for cancer and generic drugs, for Indian pharma exports to address the yawning trade deficit which last year according to Chinese figures, crossed USD 57 billion.
Besides pharmaceuticals, India has been asking China to open up its IT market as well to ensure steady increase of Indian exports.
Following the meeting, China has begun import of rice, sugar and soybean but there was no breakthrough yet on the pharma front, regarded as a “big ticket” item.
In order to break the deadlock, drug controllers of India and China along with senior commerce ministry officials and diplomats held a nine-hour meeting in the eastern city of Shanghai which is the first of its kind.
In his message to the meeting Indian Ambassador to China, Vikram Misri, has called for a clear roadmap from Beijing to address the issue.
“Misri said that a “clear roadmap for increasing the share of Indian medicines in Chinese market needs to be in place. The meeting between the regulators should be regular, ” according to a press release issued by the Indian Embassy here.
During the regulatory meeting, India’s drug regulator Dr S E Reddy emphasised on the regulator becoming facilitator for improving affordability and accessibility of quality medicines to the citizens, the statement added.
Xu Jinghe, Deputy Commissioner of National Medical Products Administration (NMPA), elaborated on reforms carried away by China in the last two years and hoped for more engagements on this issue.
Prashant Lokhande, Councillor Trade Indian embassy, summarised the meeting with a clear message of outcome oriented future engagements between the regulators and commercial ministries, the statement said.
In the background of the growing acceptance of Indian medicines, he expressed desire to work with the provincial governments to get more access to Indian medicines in the registration and procurement process, it added.
At the meeting, Joint Secretary of Commerce Ministry Shyamal Misra pitched for clearing various regulatory hurdles faced by the Indian companies in China.
Dr Mandeep Bhandari, Joint Secretary, Health advocated for more coordinated role to be played by the regulators from both the sides.
The intensive day long session covered detailed deliberations in six sessions such as regulatory overview of NMPA, registration of imported drugs in China, Indian regulatory system, drug procurement system in China, NMPA overseas inspections and compliance guide, API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) registration process in China.
Highlighting the success of the recent Chinese film “Dying to Survive”, which showed the survival of a cancer patient on the banned imported Indian drugs as they are cheap, India argued at the meeting that China should seriously consider importing Indian drugs which are in demand from various countries including US.
“China is world’s second biggest pharma market and under their Healthy China 2030 policy, they are committed to provide quality drugs at affordable price to its citizens”, the press release said.
“India has emerged as pharmacy of the world by providing high quality generic drugs at very affordable price. Our global exports have reached USD19 billion last year with India exporting to very high quality sensitive markets like US, Japan and EU,” it said.
“However, our exports of pharma formulations to China is just USD 30 million which is insignificant as compared to the potential that exists. Indian side is working intensively to tap this potential and build up on the complementarities in trade in pharmaceuticals,” it said.