In the last few decades, Information Technology has been a pre-eminent sector for the Indian economy. As their wealth grew, IT tycoons like Nandan Nilekani, Narayana Murthy, Azim Premji, Shiv Nadar became quite influential in politico-media circles. The engineers became much coveted professionals as every type of engineering grad right from mechanical to civil, started working for the IT industry until the industry saturated and today they have essentially become meme material.

However, even today, Information Technology is a mighty industry for India- accounting for around one-third of total exports and 7-8 percent of GDP. But the might of this 170 billion dollars industry is slowly diminishing, with single-digit growth rate contrary to CAGR of double-digit for the last few decades.

The industry which is on the rise now, especially after the outbreak of Coronavirus disease, is the pharmaceutical industry. It proved to be a strategic asset to India, thanks to mass production of Hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol, the drugs being used as preventive against Covid-19. After the outbreak of the virus, the pharmaceutical industry put India on the world map just like its IT industry did a few decades ago.

Earlier, Bachelor in Engineering was considered very prestigious while Bachelors in Pharmaceutical was not a force to reckon with, as the majority of the people took them as someone being trained to work for retail drug shops. The job of a pharmacist is to work in labs to produce drugs is an idea completely alien to the imagination of the general populous.

After the outbreak of Coronavirus disease, countries as powerful as the United States ‘requested’ for HCQ to India and this brings the Indian pharmaceutical industry in a global light. After Modi government allowed export of HCQ, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which used to harass Indian companies earlier, became unusually generous and drugs of other companies like generic acid drug of Cipla on March 26 and Perphenazine tablets- used for for the treatment of schizophrenia and for the control of severe nausea and vomiting in adults- by Zydus Cadila April, 8 were given approval.

According to ANI, India is supplying Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to 55 countries including United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Russia, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Seychelles, Oman, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Uganda, Egypt, Armenia, Senegal, Algeria, Jamaica, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Netherlands, Slovenia, Uruguay, Ecuador, and others. 

India is one of the largest pharmaceutical exporters with a total export of 12.1 billion dollars, or 3.4 percent to the global market, and ranks 9th in the list of top global exporters of pharmaceutical products.

The pharmaceutical industry grew at double-digit in the last decade except for the last one or two years, when the growth slowed due to regulations put by the government and other disruptive reforms.

Currently, the industry has an annual revenue of around 1.3 lakh crore rupees or 33 billion United States dollars. The largest players are Dilip Shanghvi led Sun Pharmaceutical, Lupin Limited of Desh Bandhu Gupta, Dr. Reddy laboratories of Reddy’s, Cipla, Aurbindo Pharma, Piramal Enterprise, Glenmark Pharmaceutical, Torrent, Biocon, and Serum Institute. Many Indian billionaires made their fortunes in the pharmaceutical sector, and it is arguably the largest sector in terms of the number of billionaires after the Information Technology-BPM sector.

The sentiment around pharmaceutical companies suggest that US would open up its market to other companies soon after approval of some drug of three major companies in last two weeks. In the last few days, most pharmaceutical stocks have registered a double-digit jump.

In the next fiscal year, the pharmaceutical industry is expected to grow at the rate of 10-13 percent, as per report by consultancy, Icra. “The Indian pharmaceutical industry’s growth remained stable at 12.2 percent during H1 FY2020 led by rebound in domestic growth in Q2 FY2020 to 14.2 percent supported by seasonal factors and stable growth in chronic therapies,” Icra Vice President & Co-Head Gaurav Jain said.

Like the last two decades have been defined by the rise of the Indian IT sector, it seems, the next decade is going to belong to the pharmaceutical industry. The industry has never enjoyed such a favourable domestic and global environment as it does today and the pharmaceutical industry should definitely capitalise on this.