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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

September - 2009 - issue > India Road Ahead

Pharmaceuticals - Healthy Future Ahead

Ranga Iyer
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Ranga Iyer
Two industries have put India on the world map – IT and pharmaceuticals. India’s pharmaceuticals industry, currently valued at over $ 8 billion, is expected to double in size by 2015, growing at a compounded annual rate of 9.5 percent.

The industry has done India proud. It has contributed to improving health indicators like reduced infant mortality rate and increased life expectancy. India is today the world’s fourth largest pharmaceutical producer in terms of volume. It is fourteenth in the world in value, because our medicines are among the lowest priced in the world. India has more than 100 manufacturing sites approved by the US FDA, the largest number outside North America.

That’s the positive side; now take a look at the other side. The Indian government spends 1.2 percent of GDP on healthcare, which is among the lowest in the world. According to a reply tabled in the parliament in July, the per capita expenditure incurred by the government to provide healthcare facilities is a mere Rs.37 per month.

For a country of our size, we have too few hospitals and doctors. We have 0.6 doctors per 1,000 people compared to 1.15 in Brazil and 1.06 in China. Over 80 percent of Indians pay for healthcare from their pockets in the absence of health insurance. Only 35 percent of our population has access to modern medicines, because of poor healthcare infrastructure.

There is a misplaced view that cost of medicine is standing in the way of access to medicine. This is not true. Over 200 million women and more than 80 percent of children in India suffer from iron-deficiency anemia. The cost of iron supplement is only one rupee. Its affordability has not impacted availability in rural areas, and the problem is a case of access failure. Similarly, the coverage of routine childhood vaccination is only around 60 percent, though these vaccinations are provided free. Another example is antiretroviral therapy provided free by the government – it reaches less than six percent of the patients.

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