Generic medicine trade can tie China, India closer

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/29 20:53:40

China has revised its drug laws to reduce penalties for the sale and import of unapproved drugs, sending a signal that the country may take an open mind toward cheaper generic drugs, especially those from India, to give poor and critically ill patients greater opportunities to extend their lives.

India is a leader in the world's generic drug market. Generics made in India are often as effective as, but much cheaper than, brand-name drugs made in the West. India's pharmaceutical exports reached $17.3 billion during the period from April 2017 to March 2018, according to media reports. 

If India can gain access to the market in China, which has about 1.4 billion people, India's pharmaceutical exports are likely to get a big boost.

The Chinese black comedy Dying to Survive, which hit Chinese theaters in July 2018, made many Chinese people aware that there is a large demand for India's generic drugs in China. It seems that the Chinese authorities have noticed this and are trying to find a way to solve this problem. The latest revision in drug laws is an important step for opening up the Chinese market to India's generic drugs. We believe that China will continue its reforms in pharmaceutical registration and give better access to Indian medicines.

Big demand for India's generic drugs has promoted the development of underground generics trade in China. After the new law comes into effect, the underground trade is likely to be exposed to sunlight, and continue its development and growth. 

In the future, generics can become a bright spot in India's exports to China and help narrow the South Asian country's trade deficit with China.

India's trade deficit with China was $26.9 billion in the first half of 2019, according to Chinese customs data. If India's generic drugs win market access in China, the trade deficit will be greatly reduced. 

Challenges persist, however, and making India's generic drugs fully available in China won't be easy. However, as long as reforms are beneficial to Chinese and Indian people, we believe the governments in both countries will roll out domestic reforms and spur pharmaceutical trade between the two countries.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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