Indian Pharma Sector Faces Supply Shortage, Spike In Costs Due To Coronavirus In China
Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, in early January this year, India's pharmaceutical industry is slowly beginning to face drug and raw material shortage.
The coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,800 people and stoked fears of a broader slowdown in China, has upset global stocks after factories in the country dropped production levels and people were restricted from moving in and out of the country.
As manufacturers based in China are yet to fully restart the production, nations such as India which depend heavily on imports of some raw material and intermediate goods from the mainland continue to face uncertainty.
India, one of the largest suppliers of generic drugs to the world and home to about 12% of all manufacturing sites catering to the US market, relies on China for as much as 80% of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) requirement.
Indian suppliers of key drug ingredients have pushed up prices amid fears of an imminent shortage stoked by the coronavirus crisis in China.
The drugs affected by the cost increases include Penicillin, one of the oldest-known antibiotics - whose raw material became 40 per cent costlier in just a month.
According to data from the Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council (PHARMEXCIL), which functions under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the cost of API Penicillin has increased to ₹639 per unit now against ₹454 per unit in January.
APIs, or bulk drugs, are the raw materials required for the manufacture of medicines.
Data collated by API manufacturers further suggests a rise of 13-18 per cent in the prices of APIs for other antibiotics such as Azithromycin, Doxycycline, Amikacin, Amoxicillin, Ornidazole and Dexamethasone Sodium etc. and India imports most of it from China.
Meanwhile, the price of Paracetamol, an API for painkillers such as Crocin, has increased by 26 per cent to ₹330 per unit from ₹262 in January. However, none of these price increases is likely to affect consumers since pharmaceutical companies are not allowed to push up prices of key drugs by more than 10 per cent per year.
The coronavirus outbreak has already caused over 1,800 deaths in China so far.