Taking steps to reduce dependence on Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients imports: Government

Responding to the concerns during the Zero Hour, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said huge imports of pharmaceutical raw materials was a matter of serious concern.

Published: 23rd March 2017 01:58 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd March 2017 01:58 PM   |  A+A-

A person holds pharmaceutical tablets and capsules in illustration picture in Ljubljana. (Reuters)

By PTI

NEW DELHI:  The government today said it was working on steps to reduce India's dependence on large scale import of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), as members in Rajya Sabha expressed concern over the issue.

Responding to the concerns during the Zero Hour, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said huge imports of pharmaceutical raw materials was a matter of serious concern.

She said the government was fully seized of the issue of the country's dependence on import of APIs and that inbound shipments "are coming from a particular country and as a result, (there are) national security concerns".

"We are quite seized of the matter. Quite a few discussions are happening and let me place on record, the Prime Minister himself has sat with many of us and had discussions.

"There is some work going on it. I may not be able to go into the details at the moment. Let me assure the House, the government is taking it very seriously," the minister said.

Earlier, senior BJP leader Prabhat Jha drew attention of the House on the large scale imports of raw material used by the pharma industry.

He said 92 per cent of the APIs are imported, mainly from China. He said the Chinese APIs were about four times cheaper than those produced in India.

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma too expressed concern on the issue and suggested that an inter-ministerial committee needs to look into it.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien also expressed surprise on the large scale API imports. "How come that 90 per cent of raw material is imported from China. You can't have it," he asked.

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