Gujarat eyes $1 bn investment for pharma industry

By James Jose, IANS
Sunday, December 19, 2010

AHMEDABAD - Gujarat, which accounts for nearly a half of the Indian pharma industry’s turnover, is betting big on making the state a global hub as it eyes deals worth over $1 billion at the upcoming business conclave here next month.

“Our government is proactive. We have systems in place. The discretionary mechanism in the system is less. That’s why we’re a preferred destination for industries, including the pharma sector,” said M. Sahu, Gujarat’s principal secretary for industries.

“Anything to be done is put through a policy in our state. Obviously, a combination of things has helped industries prosper — good regulation, enough credit and a visionary leadership have ensured that growth is unhindered,” Sahu told IANS in an interview.

He said if the previous edition of the conclave “Vibrant Gujarat” in 2009 was able to attract investment in the pharma industry worth $500 million via 26 pacts, this edition will certainly see it doubling, if not more, going by the interest generated thus far.

The two-day conclave every two years will be held here Jan 12-13. It is being personally overseen by Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has asked investors from overseas to personally visit the state, see the environment and then invest.

According to government and industry officials here, the size of the Indian pharmaceuticals industry is estimated at around $20 billion currently, of which exports account for $9 billion. Gujarat accounts for 45 percent of this turnover and 22 percent of exports.

“A lot of pharma businesses have been largely entrepreneur-driven. But in Gujarat, the conducive environment created by the government has helped greatly,” said Sharvil Patel, deputy managing director of Zydus Cadila, India’s fifth-largest pharma company.

“That is why you see so many companies that have origins or manufacturing facilities in the state,” Patel, whose company also has Gujarat as the hub for pharma manufacturing, told IANS.

Both Sahu and Patel gave the example of the state Food and Drugs Control Administration to drive home the point on how an enabling environment in terms of regulation and control has helped nurse the pharma industry.

The watchdog, they said, monitors both chemists and drug manufacturers and has digitised its entire processes, operations and records, making Gujarat the first state to be able to issue licences online.

“All our records and process are digitised. We monitor and coordinate with all district-level officials online. The result is we can do things much faster,” said H.G. Koshia, commissioner of the Food and Drugs Control Administration.

“Subjects like issuing new licences to manufacturers or asking our officials to take a drug off the market are all done online in our state and this process is instantaneous,” said Koshia.

“The same can take anywhere between two-three months in other states by which time the drug’s stock that has come under some suspicion will be sold to the public, defeating the entire purpose of withdrawing it.”

The state — which is four-fifths the size of Britain– has also been showcasing its overall achievements to attract investments. It has been registering a double-digit growth for over a decade.

Officials said the two-day Vibrant Gujarat Summit was expected to attract more than 20,000 delegates from nearly 60 countries, including 100 eminent political leaders and diplomats.

(James Jose can be contacted at

Filed under: Economy

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