JAIPUR: Increased dependence on imports of key bulk drugs from China, which is currently in the grip of novel coronavirus (nCoV), might severely affect chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s flagship free medicine scheme.
The scheme had earned Centre’s pat in December last year.
The companies, which provides drugs to the state government for distributing them among people free, import their Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) from China.
The situation is alarming, but health department claimed that as of now there was nothing to worry about. However, the health department officials are closely monitoring the situation.
“At the moment, no manufacturer has warned us of any imminent problems,” said Rohit Kumar Singh, additional chief secretary, health department.
At a time when the state government is taking measures to increase the number of drugs under the free medicine scheme, there is a scare of shortage of medicines, which might affect the scheme due to nCoV in China.
The health department has started taking measures so that the scheme is not affected. “We are talking to the Centre and other states to explore alternative sources to procure such drugs in case there are shortages,” Singh said.
Indian pharmaceutical companies look worried about the situation emerging in the sector due to nCoV. However, the companies claimed that as of now there was no such shortage of medicines, but in future there might be difficulties. “
As of now, there is no shortage of medicines in the market as the supply chain holds enough stocks to last two to three months. There will be issues if supply of API from China doesn’t resume in the next 20 to 30 days,” Vinod Kalani, president Rajasthan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association (RPMA) told TOI.
Kalani added, “Due to nCoV vis-a-vis shortage of medicines as per our information, the situation is improving except in Wuhan region of China and the API units situated in that region may take some time to start. Few of the manufacturers have started receiving supplies through air route of expensive molecules.”
The state is providing more than 600 drugs free of cost to patients for its drug distribution counters established at government hospitals. Recently, it has added more than 100 drugs useful in treatment of kidney and heart ailments and for cancer treatment.
In Lok Sabha in 2016, the ministry of commerce and industry informed the House that the country was highly depending on imports for essential drugs such as metformin, paracetamol, acetyl salicylic acid and other nine such essential drugs.-Times Of India