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Manufacturers urge govt not to restrict export of non-COVID syringes

The All India Syringe & Needle Manufacturers Association, the nodal body for domestic syringe manufacturers expressed disappointment over government’s decision to restrict the export of syringes and said that it will put the domestic syringe makers in an awkward situation.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on Monday issued a notification saying that the export policy for syringes with or without needles has been amended from “free” to “restricted”.

It takes lots of effort and years to build credibility as a global supplier and India’s reputation as Manufacturing Hub of Syringes will be tarnished as being undependable. We will always prioritize domestic needs.

“To ensure there is no shortage of syringes, on a voluntary basis many of Indian syringe manufacturers in the last quarter and presently as well are not accepting new business export opportunities from many overseas buyers. HMD has preponed the supply commitments to the MoH&FW & further diverted the supply of 100 million pcs from UNICEF order to GoI from Sept to Dec.,” said Rajiv Nath, President, All India Syringes and Needles Manufacturers Association (AiSNMA).

Nath urged the government:

  • To lift the restriction on non-covid sizes of syringes like insulin syringes, 5 ml & larger syringe sizes or 0.3 ml AD syringes developed for Pfizer which can’t be used in India for vaccination and will be a wasted capacity otherwise.
  • At least 50% of the quantity shipped to a country last year in October – January period of 0.5 ML / 1 ML / 2 ML & 3 ML may be allowed to be maintained. This will enable a historical past performance benchmark of standard needs to be catered to if rationing needs to be done
  • Clarity should be given of India’s quarterly needs by MoH&FW for calendar year 2022 as we can’t plan on 2-4 months window horizon basis

“Countries are counting on India to support global immunization/vaccination projects mainly for children for yellow fever or measles, hepatitis B, pentavalent or BCG etc. Those are not the syringes used for COVAX Supplies of 0.5 ML AD etc. We cannot deprive those children from those immunization commitments as those syringes will anyways not be used for COVID vaccination in India and will lie unused in our factories causing us huge losses. This is our ongoing global contractual commitments to support global vaccination projects.

The supply chain management is currently challenged temporarily due to the peak seasonal spike in demand for standard disposable syringes for dengue and typhoid etc. This will ease by Nov mid As of now it’s important for the 20 odd Indian syringe manufacturers to focus on non-COVID curative care as priority one and then priority two is vaccination preventive care and then honoring exports commitments, but turning off the tap suddenly is disruptive as it will create problems for the Indian syringe manufacturers choking their production lines.

When India and the world got ready for making vaccines, we have been time and again requesting government that it is very prudent to plan on time for drug delivery of these vaccines for ensuring timely availability of correct size of syringes to having a status of availability of vaccines to avoid shortages of appropriate types of syringes for vaccination of 1.3 billion people in India as different vaccines need different types of syringes”, added Nath.

“We wish government had called for joint meetings between vaccine manufacturers, GoI & syringes and needle manufacturers to create a balance between demand & supply and timely support for capacity creation like various COVID critical medical devices and used PLI Scheme to incentivize capacity increase.Such a situation could have been easily avoided. Now business commitments will need to be dishonoured & credibility painstakingly built over the years & India’s reputation as a dependable supplier and manufacturing hub of syringes will be in tatters,” said Vimal Khemka, secretary, AISNMA.

COVID-19 crisis has shown that the Indian Syringe manufacturers sector can rise to the challenge.

Hindustan Syringes & Medical Devices Ltd (HMD) alone has supplied 484 million pcs to GoI till date to help vaccinate over 650 million people.

“In our utmost endeavour to make India COVID syringe surplus, in August HMD has achieved production capacity of over 1 Billion AD syringes for Covid vaccination per year, helping make India Atmanirbhar in syringe manufacturing. Presently HMD is producing more than 4.2 lakh syringes of various types per hour at our factories spread over 11 acres in Faridabad industrial district in Haryana.” said Nath.

To help in vaccinating India against COVID, HMD has reserved maximum capacity for India. HMD presently is not accepting any export orders from many overseas potential buyers.

“The Union government should place orders for AD syringes with the manufacturers in India well in advance so that the latter could ramp up supplies. Clarity should be given of India’s quarterly needs by MoH&FW for calendar year 2022 as we can’t plan on a 2-4 months window horizon basis. To ramp up capacity, we need an order confirmation at least nine months to a year in advance. In line with PM Modi’s plans to resume export of surplus COVID-19 vaccines in the fourth quarter of 2021 in order to fulfill the commitment of India towards COVAX, we at HMD are confident that India will also be in a position to export COVID vaccine syringes as part of ‘Vaccine Maitri’ to fulfill India’s commitment towards the world for the collective fight against COVID-19. No One is Safe until Everyone is Safe. We on behalf of the Indian syringe manufacturers appeal to the government not to restrict export of syringes which are not required by India. We will always prioritize domestic needs.Indian Syringe manufacturers extends full cooperation & support to GoI and will do whatever it needs to produce syringes ahead of schedule to ensure success of India’s massive vaccination campaign,” Rajiv Nath concluded.
MB Bureau

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