A breakthrough for the Indian pharmaceutical industry in China has been achieved as the first anti-cancer drug from India has entered the Chinese markets. Agreements have been signed between local Chinese companies and India’s Dr. Reddy’s Lab on Monday for the sale of Abirateron, the first anti-cancer drug from India in China. India’s Ambassador Vikram Misri announced this in a tweet.
There is a huge demand for cancer drugs in China as the mortality rate of cancer in China is high. As per Chinese Medical Journal, China accounted for 24% of newly diagnosed cases and 30% of the cancer-related deaths worldwide in 2020. Beijing and New Delhi had agreed in 2018 to slash tariffs on the import of Indian medicines, including anti-cancer drugs, which have a substantial demand in China due to cheaper pricing than their Western variants.
It has been a long-standing demand of India for granting greater access to drugs from India to Chinese markets. Ambassador Misri has been raising it at various forums in China. Due to incessant efforts by the Indian Embassy in Beijing and the Government of India, there have been some approvals for Indian pharma companies to sell their drugs in China but this approval for anti-cancer drugs from India is a huge breakthrough. Around the same time in 2018, a Chinese comedy-drama “Dying to Survive” highlighting the need for affordable medicines in China became very popular among the masses. It touched upon the issue of anti-cancer drugs from India.
The news comes at a time when the bilateral trade between India and China totalled to USD 90.37 billion by the end of September 2021, an increase of 49.3 per cent year-on-year (YoY), according to the nine-month data released by the Chinese customs. China’s exports to India went up to USD 68.46 billion up 51.7 per cent YoY, apparently aided by massive imports of urgent supplies, like oxygen concentrators, when India was in the grip of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in April and May this year. The Indian exports totalled to USD 21.91 billion, registering a noteworthy increase of 42.5 per cent.
However, India’s trade deficit with China remains a concern as it reached USD 46.55 billion and is expected to climb further by the year-end. Observers say with three months still remaining in 2021, the target of USD 100 billion trade previously set by both the countries was expected to be reached this year despite the eastern Ladakh standoff.