Overall profits at India’s top 25 pharmaceutical companies soared 180% in the year ended March 2010, as they largely recovered from the big foreign exchange losses which they had experienced during the previous year.

Combined net profit at the 25 firms (defined as those with annual sales of more than 4 billion rupees) totaled just under 56 billion rupees during the 12 months, compared to nearly 20 billion rupees the year before, and their net sales rose 11.1% to 564.6 billion rupees, according to a new analysis from Pharmabiz.com of India.

The firms’ foreign exchange loss adjustment declined from 42.4 billion rupees to 750 million rupees, although net profits ahead of these adjustments fell 3.5% because of the massive rise, of more than 340%, in taxation during the year. As a result, the group’s taxation provisions increased 343% and has taken up much of their profits.

Profit before tax and adjustment (PBTA) for the firms rose 23% overall in the year ending this March, and this was despite the global economic problems, curbs on drug prices and other cost-cutting measures in a number of markets, plus tougher generic competition, legal problems and quality issues in the USA, notes Pharmabiz.com.

Earnings before depreciation, interest, taxation and adjustments (EDBITA) for the 25 drugmakers increased 15.1%, aided by a 10.3% drop in interest burden plus manageable increases in expenses, such as rises in costs of staff and raw materials of 14.8% and 13.1%, respectively.

The 25 companies accounted for over 50% of sales by India’s pharmaceutical industry last year, and sales at 15 of the firms reached more than 10 billion rupees, notes the report.

Meantime, research firm RNCOS forecasts that India’s domestic market for drug formulations will grow 17% this year, driven by the fast-growing middle-class and urban populations and boosted by the wider availability of health insurance and growing incidence of “lifestyle” diseases.

These factors have resulted in the increasing usage of high-priced drugs in the country, it says.