Indian pharma production is growing rapidly – boosted by the Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign – and both Indian companies and multinationals implanted in the world’s second most populous nation are responding to the drastic need for quality, affordable generic medicines across the world.

“When it comes to manufacturing basic medical products and drugs, India is far superior to countries like China”

Suresh Pattathil, Ferring

India has increased its level of productivity over recent years, especially in the pharmaceutical sector. The overall pharma contract manufacturing industry is growing at 20 percent, with the current market value being estimated at 50 percent of the total domestic production. Big multinationals, in turn, hold a 25 percent stake in the Indian pharmaceutical market. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is showing his commitment to transforming his country into a major player in the global value chain by launching the ‘Make in India’ campaign in 2014, an initiative that intends to boost the country’s manufacturing agenda and global competitiveness.


India is the sixth-largest manufacturing nation and the largest beneficiary of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world, seeing inflows of about USD 60 billion in 2016-17, the highest-ever in the country. Not only is India a renowned manufacturing powerhouse, but it has also improved its rank on the Global Competitiveness Index and the Global Innovation Index, along with moving into the Top 100 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business global ranking this year. Under Modi’s government, for instance, the number of Japanese companies registered in India increased by 13 percent compared to the period prior to his appointment.

With foreign multinational companies increasingly setting up shop in India, the idea of contract manufacturing has also evolved accordingly to adapt to the needs of big enterprises. Suresh Pattathil, CEO at Ferring India told PharmaBoardroom that “when it comes to manufacturing basic medical products and drugs, India has is far superior to countries like China due to resources including manpower, a talented and technically educated workforce, along with its many WHO-GMP and US FDA approved facilities. In addition to this, a substantial 40 percent lower cost of operation and production tempts big pharma names to consider India over China for their outsourcing needs.”


Low-cost, generic medicines manufactured in, and exported from, the Indian subcontinent enhance access to affordable medicines for millions of people in the world – above all in the developing world. When the WHO announced that HIV/AIDS was the major cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa in 1999, Indian manufacturers, with their reverse engineering skills, were the first to bring low-cost versions of HIV drugs (Zidovudine) to the market within a few years of the launch of the patented drug. Some claim that India is the ‘pharmacy to the world’, but it also has a great potential to become the ‘factory of the world.’ The government and regulatory agencies are greatly contributing to make this a reality. Dr. Pallavi Darade, commissioner of the FDA of the state of Maharashtra explained that “they are currently in talks with pharmaceutical companies to explore investment opportunities around the Multi-Modal International Air Cargo and Hub (MIHAN) in the city of Nagpur which will pave the way for the development of a real pharma hub in the state.” Big names like Lupin have already started production.

Writer: Luca Nardini