Covid-19: Pharma exports may take a $1.5 billion hit

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on April 03, 2020

‘Extension of lockdown will prove costly for sector’

The Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown have adversely impacted pharmaceutical exports to the tune of $1.5- $2 billion.

“Pharmaceutical exports stood at $18.75 billion at the end of February with 10.7 per cent year-on-year growth,” R Uday Bhaskar, Director-General, Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil), told BusinessLine on Friday.

But due to restrictions on export of some categories of drugs and the lockdown that has restricted the movement of goods, pharma exports have almost stopped from March 3. The government banned exports of about 26 APIs and formulations in the beginning of March.

“As a result, exports will not reach $22 billion as expected and the full-year figure will only be in the range of what has been achieved in the previous financial year,”' the DG said. During FY 19, total pharma exports stood at $19.14 billion.

The loss due to Covid-19 control measures was mainly in March and could be to the tune of $1.5-$2 billion, going by pharmexcil data. Pharma exports per month are about $1.6 billion throughout the financial year 2019-20, and March would generally see a higher quantum.

It may be recalled that bucking a recessionary trend, pharmaceutical exports registered the highest-ever year-on-year growth in the third quarter ended December 31, 2019, at 14.64 per cent.

During the April-February 2020 period (11 months), too, the overall growth was significantly higher. For instance, exports to the US showed an increase of nearly 19 per cent compared with the previous year.

According to a senior executive of a Hyderabad-based listed pharma company, any further extension of the lockdown could prove costly for the sector.

On behalf of exporters, Pharmexcil had also submitted a representation to the Director General of Foreign Trade to lift restrictions on exports.

Published on April 03, 2020

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