Can Jammu & Kashmir build on its pharma base?

Jammu & Kashmir may not be a big market for the Indian pharmaceutical industry, it has a lot to offer to the sector. Industry estimates pharma market size of around Rs 1200-1400 crore in J&K, which may seem big in the absolute figure, but is a fraction of the size in other regions. Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are estimated at around 20 times bigger, if not more.

However, J&K – especially Jammu – is an important manufacturing hub for some of leading Indian pharmaceutical companies such as Lupin, Sun Pharma and Cadila Pharmaceuticals apart from several smaller units in the region. Close to 50-odd units are registered in J&K; some of them are local manufacturers.

Today when most locations across the country face water crisis and the rising cost of power, J&K scores better. In Jammu, the cost of electricity is low at around Rs 2 per unit compared to Rs 6-7 per unit in other regions thanks to hydropower. Power consumption anyway remains lower with the region largely having a cold climate. Water availability is also not a problem. Industry players feel a lot would depend on the kind of incentives that the government offers to potential investors and what measures it takes to ensure peace and stability. For pharma manufacturers, cold climate in the region could prove ideal for manufacturing temperature sensitive vaccines.

Currently, most manufacturing in the region is seen to be focussed on acute care. Around 65-70 per cent of it is into major therapies such as Gastro Intestinal and antibiotics. Within chronic, it is largely led by cardiology, which is seen as the biggest market there. Most companies operate out of Jammu with some having operations in Srinagar. During peak winter, supplying medicines to remote hilly locations becomes a challenge. So, local stockists make their most purchases during summer. Commenting on the availability of low cost generic drugs, Hari Natarajan, founder of a pharma consulting firm Pronto Consult says, “Although Janaushadhi is already present in J&K, we might see better control and implementation to ensure better availability of these medicines along with a greater focus on improving healthcare services.”

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