India’s pharmaceutical supplies have hit a new low due to disruption in the supply chain, following the extended shutdown of Chinese factories due to the coronavirus epidemic, Bloomberg has reported.

According to Pankaj Patel, Chairman of Zydus Cadila, cited in the Bloomberg report, prices of paracetamol, a common drug used to treat many conditions including headache, cold, and fevers, among others, has risen by 40 per cent. The cost of azithromycin, an antibiotic used for curing various bacterial infections, has spiked by 70 per cent.

Patel believes that the supply chain will be disrupted further and pharma industries in India may face an acute shortage in April if production in China does not resume by the first week of March. He further predicts that prices of active pharmaceutical ingredients -- the basic substance used to produce a drug -- may increase significantly in April.

India is one of the largest suppliers of generic drugs and has numerous homegrown pharmaceutical industries, of which 12 per cent cater to the US market. India depends on China for 80 per cent of its requirement of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs).

China’s businesses have come to a standstill amidst restrictions on the movement of people and commodities. The Centre is also mulling over imposing an export ban on 12 essential drugs including antibiotics, vitamins, and hormones, to ensure that there is no shortage of drugs in the country in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in mainland China has claimed around 1,868 lives, with 93 more deaths in Hubei and five more in other parts of the country. At least 72,436 people have been affected by the infection, Aljazeera reported.