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Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai September 15 , 2021
The Tamil Nadu pharmaceutical industry has weathered the Covid pandemic and has emerged stronger now to grow further even as fears continue unabated with regards to a third wave of the coronavirus infection, observes TN pharma industry captain SV Veeramani.

The past national president of the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA) and CMD of the Chennai based Fourrts India Laboratories while analysing the present status of the TN pharma sector, said all the manufacturing firms in the state have been able to do well in the pandemic period and survived the challenges by the joint support of the association and the government. Except a few major players, all the pharma units in Tamil Nadu are coming under the SME sector.

In an exclusive interview with Pharmabiz, the industry doyen said compared to Maharashtra, Gujarat and Telangana, the pharma SMEs are the growth engine of the pharmaceutical sector in Tamil Nadu. He said the industry is obliged to the state government for the boundless support and encouragement it receives from it.

Talking about the revenue loss during the pandemic, the veteran pharma entrepreneur in Chennai said there might be a loss of 25 to 30 per cent revenue to each of the units during the last 18 months. However, all the manufacturers concentrated on manufacturing pandemic response goods such as PPE kit, medical face masks, gowns, gloves, face shields and other items that are used by health workers to keep safe from infectious diseases. They also engaged in the production and supply of vitamin products and oxygenators.

"Since there is apprehension about a third wave of the pandemic, TN IDMA is now conducting a number of seminars and workshops through online mode to sensitise the members on the emerging opportunities in the pharma sector. Further, the TN IDMA has decided to approach the government for support in many ways including more local purchase by the state medical services corporation (TNMSCL). The industry expects more purchase preference as well as more price preference from the government side. After all, the state government is taking various initiatives for the growth of the SMEs. They fund through the Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation (TN IIC) to all the SME units," said Veeramani.

On the exports side, he pointed out that upgrading the production plants into WHO-GMP level is the only way out for the small scale entrepreneurs to become capable of exporting their products. Further, such compliance can fetch more contract manufacturing tie-ups with large domestic players and MNCs.

When asked about the quality of products manufactured in Tamil Nadu, Veeramani said the pharmaceutical products manufactured in Tamil Nadu by the SMEs are appraised as the number one in the country. The percentage of not-of-standard-quality (NSQ) drugs in the state is the minimum in the country.

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