The global active pharmaceutical ingredients market was worth US$ 176.3 Billion in 2018. Active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), is the term that is used to refer to the biologically active component of a drug (e.g. tablet, capsule). A drug is usually composed of several components. The API represents the primary ingredient. Other ingredients are commonly known as "excipients. Sometimes a drug can contain several APIs and its effect on a patient depends on the dosage prescribed and can vary from person to person. In combination therapies, two or more than two active ingredients are used to treat different symptoms in different ways. Stringent quality control is a mandate when it comes to the manufacturing of drugs as the API represents the main component considered while making the prescription.
Pharmaceutical manufacturing occurs in two general steps. In the first step, manufacturers convert raw materials into APIs. The second step involves creating the final formulation by mixing APIs and excipients into tablets, capsules, solutions, etc. and finally packaging the drug for the end users. Manufacturers either sell APIs in the open market (also known as the merchant market) or use them as inputs to make their final formulations. The global API market is extremely competitive with a number of large and small manufacturers. Firms that engage in API manufacturing generally specialize and target their manufacturing based on a combination of the firms in-house skills and market opportunities. Catalyzed by lower costs, API manufacturing has gradually been shifting from the historical leaders in Western countries to manufacturers based in India and China.
The global demand of APIs is currently exhibiting strong growth. One of the major drivers of this market is the rising number of blockbuster patent expiries creating a significant opportunity for generic APIs. Moreover, there has been a strong demand for APIs for biologicals. The global market for biologicals is currently exhibiting strong growth catalyzed by their high potency and ability to treat diseases beyond the scope of small molecule drugs. This is creating a strong demand for APIs for branded biological drugs and their biosimilar versions. Other factors catalyzing the global demand of APIs include ageing population, rising expenditures on healthcare, increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases, etc. Looking forward, the market value is projected to reach US$ 247.2 Billion by 2024, exhibiting a CAGR of 5.8% during 2019-2024.
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