Building Indian pharma links

Dr Zaw Moe Khine specialises in importing medicine. Myanmar does not produce most varieties it needs, and so Dr Zaw Moe Khine looks abroad to places like India for sources.

A large export industry is established in India, and its players are keen on supplying foreign markets, like Myanmar.

“Indian companies have their own factories, so we can order their products using our own brand name and packaging design,” he said.

Indian-made medicine has a reputation as being relatively cheap but effective. While high-end medication in Myanmar often comes from other countries, Indian medication is a favourite of much of the population.
“Myanmar cannot produce medicine, so the local market depends on foreign imports,” he said at the Indian Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Expo, held from May 13 to 15 in Mumbai, India.

Once a deal is made between a manufacturer and a trader to import the medicine, it must receive a registration number from Myanmar’s Food and Drug Administration. Then comes the work of distributing, marketing and selling the products, a specialty of companies like the one Dr Zaw Moe Khine leads, called Golden Singa Healthcare.

Myanmar buyers are keen to source from their large western neighbor, while Indian companies view Myanmar as a largely untapped market – though finding the right business partners is a major challenge.

Myanmar’s pharmaceutical expenditures were an estimated US$390 million in 2014, a growth of about 14 percent year-on-year, according to the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India. It could reach as high as $1.12 billion by 2023, making it a lucrative market for Indian firms, according to a report released in November 2014.

Thailand and China hold the second and third spots in supplying Myanmar’s medicine, according to Indian statistics.

India has built a reputation for being one of the world’s main exporters of medicine. Its manufactures initially specialised in bulk and generic products, but some have lately been conducting more research and development activities.

It exported about $141 million in pharmaceutical products to Myanmar in the fiscal year 2013-14, about 1 percent of its total $15.1 billion in exports worldwide for the year.

The country hosts shows like the Indian Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Expo to grow its export business. India’s Yangon embassy hosted a delegation including a Myanmar Times reporter for the event, which included 350 companies exhibiting products and services to over 10,000 visitors.

Dr Zaw Moe Khine, general secretary of the Myanmar Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment Entrepreneurs’ Association, participated as part of the Myanmar delegation to the event. He said Indian products have a reputation of being cheap and reliable, adding Myanmar importers are increasingly eyeing its products.

The association entered into a memorandum of understanding with its Myanmar counterpart in 2011. It was signed to strengthen trade relations between the two countries in pharmaceutical products.

Dr Phyo Maung Thaw said conferences are a good way of finding quality products to import.
“If we don’t come to a workshop, we conduct business cooperation by email,” he said.

Another medicine importer said cooperation between Indian manufacturers and Myanmar importers is the crucial ingredient for success in the business.

A major hurdle is Food and Drug Administration approval, which can take time and is often complicated.
“Successful local pharmaceutical businessmen are always exploring for new opportunities,” he said.

“Indian partners have built their own brand names, and reached success before us.”

Source: Myanmar Times

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