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Bulk drug makers eye Japanese generic market

India has free trade agreement with Japan, which also aids in forming alliances with Japanese firms

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Japan has emerged as a focus market for Indian bulk drug makers. Active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) makers like Ahmedabad-based Dishman Pharmaceuticals, Hyderabad-based and Chandigarh-based are all upbeat on the Japanese market.

Dishman Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals, which is supplying to eleven companies in Japan already and has seven APIs approved by the country's drug regulator, is eyeing a five-fold growth in revenue from Japan this fiscal (2012-13).

"We are going to touch around $10 million in revenues from Japan, which is up five to seven times from last year, when we had supplied APIs worth $1.2-2 million to Japan," claimed J R Vyas, chairman and managing director of Dishman.

He added that the company has a pipeline of eleven APIs waiting for approval from the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA), the drug regulator of Japan.

A few years back, Japan had decided to switch from expensive patented drugs to cheaper generic versions. Also, the expiry of patents of several block-buster drugs, threw up an opportunity for generic drug makers, and, in turn, for API makers who supply ingredients to formulation makers.

India also has a free trade agreement with Japan, which also aids in forming alliances with Japanese companies.

The government is trying to promote use of generic drugs and has included this into the outline of the draft proposal for comprehensive tax and social security reform in February 2012.

Hyderabad-based Suven Lifesciences, which is supplying to generic drug makers in Japan, is also looking out to sign similar supply deals with at least three more companies this year.

A senior official of the company informed that Indian API makers, who already export to several countries, find it easy to meet regulatory requirements for supplying to Japan.

Chandigarh-based Ind-Swift Labs, has around six to seven approvals in place in Japan. The company is looking to tap the anti-diabetic, anti-cholesterol market in Japan, as generic drug makers are bullish on these segments.

The Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) is taking a delegation to Japan during April 24-26 this year.

In a notification on its website, the export promotion council noted that India's export of bulk drugs to Japan had grown by around 50.3 per cent in 2011-12 over previous year to $87 million. This fiscal's figures are yet to be collated.

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