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Basic Drugs Dearer After Government Bans Imports From China

It is a bolt from the blue for the Indian pharma industry which is facing a shortage of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) after the Indian government banned imports from China following the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

According to an estimate, nearly 70 per cent of the country’s pharmaceutical raw materials are imported from China alone. India’s dependence on API imports from China is likely to cost the industry dear.

Indian manufacturers imported bulk drugs and pharma intermediates (worth Rs 17,263 crore in 2018-19 following by Rs 14, 755 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 13,107 crore in 2016-17).

PHARMA UNITS FEEL THE PINCH

Fearing the Covid-19 infection, the Indian government banned the API imports from China despite the fact that the country is the largest API and pharma intermediates supplier.

Sanjay Dheer CEO, Zen Laboratories, said the jerk will be mild till a couple of months as some API imports are in the pipeline.

“Things will go beyond the control after two months if the ban on imports is not lifted. There may not be shortage but the prices are already up. We are also fearing hoarding of raw material,” Dheer said.

Chandigarh-based retailer and manufacturer Vibhor Jain said that the prices of basic drugs like paracetamol and Nimuslide have doubled or even gone three times.

“The end customer will not feel the pinch at this moment but the pharma units are already facing the crunch. They are bound to abide by the NPPA norms but it will not be possible to supply the drugs at old rates if the government did not revise the prices,” Vibhor Jain said.

API CRUNCH MAY HIT SUPPLIES

Pharma industry insiders say most of the government suppliers will not be able to make government supplies beyond March following the shortage of raw material. Failure to meet the supplies may result in blacklisting of the pharma units.

“The government should either revise the prices or lift the ban on imports. Those who will be supplying drugs at old rates will have to spend from their pocket as the raw material prices have already been doubled,” Vibhor Jain said.

STATE GOVT KEEPING TABS ON HOARDERS

The black marketing of masks, hand sanitisers and gloves has sent the state government authorities in a tizzy. Haryana has declared the Covid-19 outbreak an epidemic.

“There is no scientific study that the API containers will be infected. We are keeping a tab on the hoarders who will be dealt with sternly if found violating the rules,” Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said.

Over 72,000 people have been screened in Punjab; out of which, nearly 5,994 people returned to the state after travelling abroad. Of the 5,994 people, 3,600 were put into quarantine for 28 days and nearly 1,400 are still under observation. Only one positive case has been reported in the state so far.-India Today

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