Economy

Commerce Ministry assessing impact on pharma ingredient supplies from China

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on February 27, 2020

Pharmexcil asks drug-makers to file data on import of APIs, intermediaries

The government is assessing the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China on the Indian pharma industry.

In a letter sent to pharma majors, the Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Concil (Pharmexcil), an arm of the Ministry of Commerce, has asked them to provide data on the nature and quantum of their Active Pharmeutical Ingredient (APIs), and Key Starting Material/Intermediary imports from China.

“The coronavirus has created an impact on China and the industrial units producing APIs have stalled their production in many areas of China,” said Uday Bhaskar, Director-General of Pharmexcil, in the communication to the drugmakers.

“As a result, supplies to India are likely to be affected in the coming weeks till there is an official announcement in China on the restoration of API supplies,’’ he added.

India imports about $2.5- billion worth of APIs/raw material from China while exports were only at about $230 million last year, growing at about 24 per cent, according to Pharmexcil data.

The Department of Pharmaceuticals has also convened meetings with stakeholders to understand the implication of the supply shortages on the pharma industry and availability of essential medicines in the long run.

Once the data are tabulated, the government would be in a position to address the situation in the best possible manner and the industry, too, would be better prepared to work towards alternatives, the official said.

It is learnt that about 20 drug-makers have already shared the data.

A senior executive at a Hyderabad-based pharma manufacturer told BusinessLine that raw material inventories of many players will last till March end. “But now that fresh imports from China have been hit for more than three weeks, drug-makers are heading for shortages very soon,’’ he said.

Preparedness

Simultaneously, the government has been monitoring the preparedness of the country in the event of any spread of the virus.

“As part of public health preparedness, the government is keeping a record on manufacture/export of drugs, including Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients manufactured by Indian companies. Data are being collected by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO),” said an official.

Published on February 27, 2020

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