One driver of growth in the healthcare sector is India’s booming population. By increasing rate of 2% annually by 2030, India I expected to surpass China as the world’s most populous nation. By 2050, the population is projected to reach 1.6 billion.
This population increase is due in part to a decline in infant mortality, the result of better healthcare facilities and the government’s emphasis on eradicating diseases such as hepatitis and polio among infants. In addition, life expectancy is rapidly approaching the levels of the western world. By 2025, an estimated 189 million Indians will be at least 60 years of age – triple the number in 2004, thanks to greater affluence and better hyfiene. The growing elderly population will place an enormous burden on India’s healthcare infrastructure.
However, India’s thriving economy is driving urbanization and creating an expanding middle class with more disposable income to spend on healthcare.
Pharmaceutical industry opportunities
Despite widespread poverty and inadequate public healthcare provision, India has much to offer the leading drug makers. An increase in lifestyle diseases resulting from the adoption of unhealthy western diets, combined with a growing middle class that has more disposable income to spend on treatment, will provide new opportunities for global pharmaceutical firms.
India has emerged as a major supplier of several bulk drugs, producing these at lower prices compared to formulation producers worldwide.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already have approved 85 Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) and formulation plants in India, the highest such number outside the US. India is poised to become a major exporter of pharmaceuticals, particularly generic and OTC drugs, to global markets.
The Indian healthcare sector can be viewed as a glass half empty or a glass half full. The challenges the sector faces are substantial, from the need to improve physical infrastructure to the necessity of providing health insurance and ensuring the availability of trained medical personnel. But the opportunities are equally compelling, from developing new infrastructure and providing medical equipment to delivering telemedicine solutions and conducting cost-effective clinical trials. For companies that view the Indian healthcare sector as a glass half full, the potential is enormous.