Coronavirus crisis can affect India's drug supply, warns medical department

They warn that if the situation does not improve quickly, availability of a wide variety of medicines ranging from antibiotics and hormones to vitamins could be badly hit in the country.

Published: 14th February 2020 12:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th February 2020 12:57 AM   |  A+A-

Wuhan hospital

A doctor checks the conditions of a patient in Jinyintan Hospital, designated for critical COVID-19 patients, in Wuhan. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

JAIPUR: The Coronavirus crisis in China is all set to disrupt the Free Medicine Scheme run by the Gehlot government in Rajasthan. Ten major companies who supply essential medicines to the Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation under this much-lauded scheme have written a joint letter that the majority of raw materials for these medicines are imported from China. As the companies are now left with stocks for just 15 days, they should not be penalised in case there is any delay in their supplies, it said.

 Nearly  80 % API ( raw material used to make medicine ) used for the manufacture of the free medicine are imported from China but with imports being cancelled due to the virus threat, the companies are now facing a tough situation.

Kailash Narayan Meena, Director (Procurement) remarks, "We are trying to ensure that the supply of Free Medicines to patients in Rajasthan is not affected and they get the medicines they need. For that we have issued directives to the suppliers. But given the special situation if they are unable to procure the raw materials and can’t make any alternate arrangements, then we shall take further action keeping in mind the tender conditions on which they work.”

Sources in the Medical Department have revealed that the crisis threatens not just Rajasthan but the drug and medicine suppliers across India. They warn that if the situation does not improve quickly, availability of a wide variety of medicines ranging from antibiotics and hormones to vitamins could be badly hit in the country. They also point out that the government may be forced to put an end to the export of medicines though India currently exports medicines worth Rs. 1.3 lakh crores annually. 

Experts say that India imports 57 type of molecules from China and for 19 types of raw materials the country depends entirely on China. At present, India has sufficient stocks to last till April this year but there have been no imports from China for over a month. An Expert Committee of eight technical departments has submitted a primary report which says that if supplies from China are not resumed within a month, India could soon face a grave crisis.

“We got very little supply of raw materials since China had holidays in January and after that this virus threat has led to the stoppage of any production there. As a result, the supply of Free Medicines has been badly affected in the past month. Even when production resumes, getting the stocks to India by sea route will take a minimum of 20 days, ” revealed a senior official of the department.
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