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31 Mar, 2024 05:06

Russia a big opportunity for India – pharma leader to RT

The CEO of a Moscow-based drug maker said Indian companies are making forays into the local market as Western majors leave
Russia a big opportunity for India – pharma leader to RT

Indian pharmaceutical companies have increased their presence in Russia after Western competitors withdrew from the market in the wake of the sanctions against Moscow, Satya Karm Punia, the president of Moscow-based Rus Biopharm Group, said in an interview to RT.   

India became Russia’s largest supplier of pharmaceuticals last year, filling the recent void left by previously dominant Western firms. “Because of the relationship that [India and Russia share], I am sure the Indian pharmaceutical companies have a good role to play in Russia,” the Indian businessman said. His group’s manufacturing facility is located in the special economic zone in the city of Dubna near Moscow.  

Punia noted that in the past two years, since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine and increasing sanctions pressure on businesses, India has started supplying to Russia a host of the raw materials used to manufacture medicines, effectively replacing the Western suppliers that previously had a strong presence in the market. Punia claimed that Russia would derive a “price benefit” for its domestically produced medicines if it sourced more raw materials from India. “The medicines would get cheaper, which means [it would be] more accessible for the regular people; that is a huge benefit.” 

The businessman termed India’s increasing forays into the Russian market a “big opportunity” for the South Asian nation. According to Punia, around 15-20 Indian pharmaceutical companies are already working in Russia, although just a few have established manufacturing units in the country.  

India recently replaced Germany as the top supplier of medicines to Russia. Indian manufacturers ramped up exports by 3% last year, delivering nearly 294 million packages of medicine to Russia. Germany was Russia’s top supplier in 2021 and 2022, RBK reported earlier this week, citing data compiled by the consultancy RNC Pharma. Mumbai-based Oxford Laboratories was one of the top suppliers to Russia last year, boosting exports by 67% to 4.8 million packages, the data showed. 

Many Western pharmaceutical companies have suspended their non-essential work and investments in Russia over the Ukraine conflict, while several key global pharma producers, including Eli Lilly, Bayer, Pfizer, MSD, and Novartis, have also halted new clinical trials in Russia. “Interestingly, health care is not under sanctions,” Punia said. “But somehow, the big pharma – maybe not formally – are under pressure to stop investing in Russia [and] to stop supplies of important medicines.” Describing the situation as “morally wrong,” Punia asserted that big pharma companies are losing an important market and thus “damaging themselves.”

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