Following the decision of India to put a cap on the export of drugs manufactured in the country because of the coronavirus, fears of global shortages of some common drugs have started to arise. Exports of 26 ingredients and the medicines made from them have been restricted by India which is the biggest supplier of generic drugs of the world.
Paracetamol, one of the most widely-used pain relievers in the world, is part of the ,list of restricted drugs for export.
This decision hurts more because many of the drug manufacturers in China are still shut or have reduced output because of the ferocity of the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.
Imports of active ingredients for their medicines from China account for almost 70 per cent of the ingredients used by Indian drug makers. And if the epidemic continues, they are likely to face shortages of such ingredients, industry experts have warned.
“Even drugs that aren’t produced in China get their base ingredients from China. Globally there could be a shortage if China and India both get hit,” warned analyst Shaun Rein from the China Market Research Group.
About 10 per cent of all Indian pharmaceutical exports have been included in the restricted list of ingredients and medicines and includes a number of crucial antibiotics, such as tinidazole and erythromycin, the hormone progesterone and Vitamin B12.
There are indications that the prices of medicines is already going up because of a shortage of of ingredients, said Oxford Economic’s lead economist Stephen Foreman. “There are already signs that the reduction in supply to India has pushed up prices there considerably.”
While urging all parties to maintain calm over the announcement, the Indian government has assured that there is enough stocks to last at least for the next three months.
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA, almost about one fourth of all medicines consumed in the United States and about b30 per cent of ingredients were imported from India in 2018.
The FDA is trying to ascertain how the export restrictions imposed in India will impact the medical supply and the effect on essential medicines in the United States, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told US senators.
Many of the larger pharma companies in the US have said that they are closely monitoring the activities and changes in their supply chains.
A warning of possible drug shortages was issued by Mylan last week while Eli Lilly assured that it expects that there will not be any shortage of supplies for any of its therapies, including insulin products, because of the outbreak of the coronavirus.
(Adapted from BBC.com)