NEW DELHI: India's bulk drug imports from top five countries stood at Rs 18,372.54 crore in 2016-17 with China accounting for 66 per cent, Parliament was informed today. 

In a written reply in Lok Sabha, Minister of State, Chemicals and Fertilisers Mansukh L Mandaviya said the other four major countries from where India imports bulk drugs are Germany, the US, Italy and Singapore. 

India's import of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) from China stood at Rs 12,254.97 crore in 2016-17, while that from the US was at Rs 820.18 crore. 

API import from Italy was at Rs 701.85 crore during the year under review, while the same from Germany and Singapore was at Rs 485.11 crore and Rs 422.01 crore respectively. 

"It may be mentioned that most of the imports of bulk drugs/API (are) being done in the country because of economic considerations," Mandaviya said. 

As India is a signatory to the WTO and TRIPs agreement, import restrictions have been removed, he added. 

In 2015-16, India's total bulk drug imports from the top five countries were at Rs 21,225.97 crore and it was Rs 19,833.19 crore in 2014-15, the minister added. 

Replying to another query, Mandaviya said the Department of Pharmaceuticals has asked medical device associations, healthcare industry bodies and relevant regulatory agencies to help in categorising medical devices. 

The purpose is to categorise medical devices so as to have different trade margins for various categories for different segments, considering the vast diversity and the logistics required in delivering them to patients, he said. 

"Industry has proposed that the total trade margins for medical devices could be capped to make quality medical devices affordable. Discussions on the issue with industry resulted in the need for categorisation," Mandaviya said, adding there has been no consensus on the issue.