The domestic active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 7%-8% over the next three to four years, according to ICRA rating agency. The estimated size of the industry is about Rs. 1,000-1,100 billion in CY2022, according to the rating agency
The growth is attributed to steady and stable rise in the formulations industry due to increasing geriatric population, growing prevalence of chronic diseases, and higher demand for contract manufacturing with global customers looking to diversify their supply chain dependence from China to alternative destinations.
“The Indian API industry has faced various headwinds such as rising input costs (raw materials, freight, and energy), forex volatility and supply chain disruptions due to the ongoing geopolitical disruptions, resulting in a sharp contraction of ~550-600 bps in the operating profit margins (OPM) of ICRA’s sample set to ~13.0% in FY2023E over ~18.7% in FY2021,” said Deepak Jotwani, Assistant Vice President & Sector Head – Corporate Ratings, ICRA.
Jotwani added that with the easing of supply chain disruptions and freight costs, and the expected stabilisation of raw material prices over the next few quarters, the OPM is likely to improve by 80-100 bps in FY2024.
Further, the Indian Government’s legislative support, the production linked incentive (PLI) scheme under its broader Atmanirbhar Bharat mission and bulk drugs parks scheme will boost the API industry’s growth significantly, helping to reduce the dependence on Chinese imports.
Jotwani said that the successful implementation of these schemes will reduce the dependence on China by ~25-30% in 4-5 years.”
Import Dependence On China
The past two years have been challenging for the Indian API manufacturers due to the dependence on China for imports. ICRA said that India imported about Rs 350 billion worth of APIs and bulk drugs in FY2022, accounting for approximately 35% of its total API requirement, of which China accounted for about 65-70% share.
Further, dependence on Chinese imports of APIs for certain essential medicines is as high as 80-100%, with almost the entire requirement of certain fermentation-based APIs like Penicillin and Erythromycin being sourced from China, ICRA added.
Due to the cost advantages of the Chinese API industry and the volatility in the prices of the APIs, domestic production of certain APIs is unviable for Indian manufacturers, leading to continued dependence on China.
Even when the APIs are manufactured locally, the key starting materials (KSMs) are still majorly sourced from China. The Chinese API industry accounts for about 40% of the global API requirement and is supported by benefits like higher economies of scale, subsidies and fiscal incentives offered by the Chinese government, and lower power, fuel, and borrowing costs.
Healthy Financial Metrics
ICRA’s sample set witnessed a healthy annual revenue growth of 15-18% over FY2021 and FY2022, with the trend expected to continue in FY2023 and FY2024. Meanwhile, inventory levels of API players further increased in FY2022 and FY2023 as companies tried to ensure production continuity while various geo-political disruptions impacted supply chains. However, the same is expected to ease to some extent over the near term.
With an increasing focus on domestic manufacturing of APIs and support by government through the PLI scheme, the API industry is expected to continue its capital expenditure investments. Nonetheless, the debt metrics (Total Debt/OPBDITA of 1.4-1.6 times) and return indicators (ROCE of 17-18%) of the sample set are expected to remain healthy over FY2023 and FY2024, helped by steady internal accrual generation and comfortable capital structure.