India’s already high profile as a generic drug producer has been boosted by the pandemic, with growth in the market subsequently accelerating the country’s demand for pharmaceutical excipients.
“The pharmaceutical industry in India stepped up very quickly in response to COVID-19, working closely with governments and research institutes to develop and refine manufacturing processes,” says Industry Manager in Chemicals Shilpi Mehrotra, who is overseeing Kline’s Specialty Excipients for Oral Solid Dosage Form Pharmaceuticals: India Market Analysis and Opportunities report. “Following various waves of enthusiasm (scientifically backed up or not) for various molecules, manufacturing licenses were acquired swiftly, thereby meeting global demand with drugs like Remdesivir, Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), Dexamethasone, Tocilizumab, and Favipiravir. During the pandemic, the Indian pharmaceutical industry supplied over 120 countries with HCQ, more than 20 countries with Paracetamol, and about 96 countries with vaccines.”
According to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), India is the world’s largest supplier of generic medicines, accounting for 20% of total global supply and 60% of global vaccination volume. This demand fuels the need for excipients, which in the category of oral solid doses alone, rose by around 23% in 2021 over that of 2019. Increases were seen in all excipients but in some more than others — especially cellulosic excipients, such as hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) and ethyl cellulose (EC), which were increasingly used in COVID-19 treatment drugs.
“The market of excipients in India is highly fragmented, catered to by well over 100 suppliers,” Mehrotra adds. “Although the multinational suppliers dominate by share, there are many large Indian suppliers as well.”
And while excipient suppliers substantially benefitted from the effects of the pandemic, they still faced major challenges. In 2020, disruptions in the global supply chain caused problems in the procurement of raw materials needed for excipients. Many factory operations halted because of lockdowns and labor shortages, resulting in production cutbacks for excipient producers. Uncertainties in transportation and an increase in freight rates aggravated the problems.
“Consequently, the prices of all excipients shot up,” says Mehrotra. “The price hike noticed for each excipient product is different, but on an average, prices were higher by 15%-20% in India in 2021 compared to those in 2019.”
For more insights on the dynamic market of excipients, be on the lookout for Kline’s upcoming Specialty Excipients for Oral Solid Dosage Form Pharmaceuticals: India Market Analysis and Opportunities, which is scheduled for publication in August. The report offers a detailed analysis of the market of OSDF excipients in different application categories, with a complete assessment of market size, competitive landscape, opportunities, and challenges.