Chemical firms and textile industry to transform into pharma companies

Special chemical firms are actively looking at the pharmaceutical sector as their next growth opportunity and to transform from agrochemicals and technical textiles. 

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“In pharma, we have received a lot of inquiries to develop intermediates, especially after the pandemic. We developed an intermediate for a COVID-19 drug, favipiravir, for some Indian and Japanese firms,” said PI Industries executive director Rajnish Sarna.

Specialty chemical firms, which were seeing the intermediates business for the past few years, received a boost from the pandemic and the focus on localizing pharmaceutical supply chains. They are seeing a surge in demand for intermediates or raw materials used for producing active pharmaceutical ingredients, following the coronavirus pandemic.

PI Industries earns the bulk of its revenue from the agrochemical business. But, in the past three to four years, the company began to look at to change into other specialty chemicals such as pharmaceutical intermediates and imaging until it entered the segment this fiscal.

The global focus on a China Plus One strategy for investments will take a sharp rise in the expansion of capacity in the chemicals sector in the coming years, said Deepak Nitrite Ltd CEO Maulik Mehta. “Deepak Nitrite has several advanced intermediates that are used by the pharmaceutical industry. We are evaluating other chemical intermediates for the pharma segment and also plan brownfield investments to expand the existing business,” Mehta said.

Indian pharmaceutical firms at present source about two-thirds of their bulk drug supplies from China. However, the supplies, comprising active pharmaceutical ingredients and intermediates, saw several confusion over the past few years. 

Supplies almost came to a halt in February and March because of the lockdown in China due to outbreak of coronavirus.

SRF(Shri Ram Fibres) Ltd, which manufactures nylon cord fibers for tires and it is focused on the technical textiles segment, has also been focusing on pharmaceutical intermediates, a spokesperson said. In its annual report for 2019-20, the company said its pharma intermediates business is driven by its chemical technology group division.

Indian pharmaceutical firms at present source about two-thirds of their bulk drug supplies from China. However, the supplies, comprising active pharmaceutical ingredients and intermediates, saw several disruptions over the past few years. Supplies almost came to a halt in February and March because of the lockdown in China following the outbreak of coronavirus.

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