One repeatedly hears about the one sector where India is still years ahead of China- pharmaceuticals. Well that’s true – for now. But what’s worrying is that in many people’s opinion the country’s lead is more a result of China’s weaknesses than it is of India’s strengths.
For instance, the Chinese don’t understand US and European regulatory processes as well as we do, their English language skills aren’t as good as ours. But can they reverse engineer – of course they can. Do they understand manufacturing – of course, they do. It’s a matter of time before they figure out the US FDA, and learn English, no? I mean this was the country that executed the head of its drug regulatory system for corruption – so when they want to make a statement they know how to.
And what’s even more worrying is that once they do this there’s actually little difference between Indian and Chinese – after all, a generic is a generic is a generic.
The only way to keep the lead is to innovate. Not in dribs and drabs but in buckets. The government seems to have realised this – with its plan for a Rs 10,000 crore venture capital fund for pharma R&D. Provided it becomes a reality, and is deployed well this could help.