Indian Airports to Have Special Pharma Zones

Pharmaceutical zones will have facilities to test materials during transit in controlled conditions

By Sushmi Dey, ET Bureau

The Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad international airports will soon have special infrastructure to handle the export and import of medicines.

The cities will get pharmaceutical zones that will be equipped with storage and cold-chain facilities, which will preserve the quality of medicines, an official in the ministry of health and family welfare said.

"The design for establishing the first three pharmaceutical zones has been prepared. Besides storage and transportation, these zones will have drug-testing facilities to ensure quality," said Dr. Surinder Singh, the Drug Controller General of India.

According to the health ministry, the infrastructure at the three airports will be ready by the end of 2009.

Each zone will have a good manufacturing practice-compliant center and facilities to test materials during transit in controlled conditions. "There will be separate facilities for export, import, sampling and vaccines," Dr. Singh added.

The infrastructure is being designed by the health ministry, which will also provide technical support, besides training staff in the zones, the official, requesting anonymity, said. The ministry will, however, not invest in the project, he said.

According to Dr. Singh, the investments will come from the airports. They will charge a fee to pharmaceutical companies to recover their investment. The ministry of health will soon approach the civil aviation ministry and the customs department to finalize the areas and other regulatory issues.

The domestic pharmaceutical industry has been demanding such a facility to export medicines. There have been instances when large consignments of drugs exported from India have been rejected due to mal-handling at airports. India exports medicines worth more than Rs 25,000 crore, 35% of the total domestic production.

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