Coronavirus: Pharma dept seeks curbs on drug ingredients imported from China

The active ingredients required to make several drug formulations are largely imported to Indian pharmaceutical companies from China.
Coronavirus: Pharma dept seeks curbs on drug ingredients imported from China
Coronavirus: Pharma dept seeks curbs on drug ingredients imported from China
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The Department of Pharmaceuticals has asked the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to issue orders restricting export of 12 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and formulations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, according to an office memorandum.

The APIs and formulations include common antibiotics and vitamins.

A high-level committee formed by the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the chemicals and fertilisers ministry to monitor supply of raw materials for drugs from China has recommended restrictions on export of these items.

The 12 APIs and formulations include antibiotics such as Choramphenicol, Neomycin, Metronidazole and Vitamins B1, B12, B6 along with progesterone, among others.

"The Government of India is closely monitoring the supply of APIs/intermediates/Key starting materials (KSMs) which are imported from China and effect of the outbreak of novel coronavirus in China on their supply.

"The Committee after examining the situation has recommended to impose restrictions on the export of 12 APIs and formulations...till further orders," Deputy Secretary at Chemicals and Fertilisers Ministry M K Bhardwaj said in the letter to the DGFT.

China accounted for 67.56 per cent of India's total imports of bulk drugs and drug intermediates at USD 2,405.42 million in 2018-19.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday met the representatives of various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, textiles, chemicals, electronics and IT hardware, solar, auto, surgical equipments, and paints, to review the situation following the outbreak of the deadly virus in China.

She said the government will soon announce measures to deal with the impact of coronavirus outbreak on the domestic industry.

Describing pharma, chemical and solar equipment sectors as the worst affected, the finance minister said disruptions are visible in these segments due to delays in shipment.

She also said there were no reports of shortage of medicines or medical equipment.

According to official sources, Indian drugmakers have informed the high-level committee that they presently have stocks for the next two to three months.

There has been no supply of APIs from the neighbouring country for the last 20-25 days, sources said.

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