Coronavirus outbreak: Chinese hubs shut shop, Odisha feels drug heat 

Several pharmaceutical majors in the country are dependent on Chinese imports as they procure around 70 per cent APIs for manufacturing drugs.

Published: 20th February 2020 08:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th February 2020 08:03 AM   |  A+A-

medicines, pills

For representational purposes

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR:  Odisha stares at a possible shortage and anticipates rise in price of essential drugs in next few months as outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected drugs manufacturing hubs in China leading to short supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and bulk drugs.

Orissa Drugs and Chemicals Limited (ODCL), a Central PSU engaged in manufacturing of tablets, capsules, injectables, liquid orals and ORS, has already stopped production due to short supply of APIs, whereas six suppliers have approached the state government expressing inability to supply drugs within the stipulated time.

Several pharmaceutical majors in the country are dependent on Chinese imports as they procure around 70 per cent APIs for manufacturing drugs.

Sources said supply of fermentation-based ingredients used to make antibiotics are expected to be affected as Hubei province, epicentre of the outbreak, houses a majority of suppliers.

The price of Paracetamol, the most commonly used analgesic and antibiotics like Amoxicillin, Ciprofloxacin and Cotrimoxazole has almost doubled in the last one week forcing the manufacturing units to stop bulk procurement.

ODCL General Manager T K Pradhan said around 75 per cent of the APIs required for manufacturing of drugs here is met by supplies from China.

“The procurement has been completely stopped after the price skyrocketed,” he added.

Pradhan informed the price of Paracetamol has increased from Rs 235 per kg to Rs 480 and that of Ibuprofen from Rs 680 to Rs 1,150 per kg.

Similarly, the price of Amoxicillin, Ciprofloxacin and Cotrimoxazole is up from Rs 1,450 to Rs 2,500, Rs 1,480 to Rs 2,550 and Rs 890 to Rs 1,480.

State-run hospitals anticipate shortage of drugs if the situation does not improve as six suppliers have approached the government seeking relaxation in supply.

Odisha State Medical Corporation Limited (OSMCL) procures medicines and surgical items that are provided to patients under the free drug distribution scheme Niramaya.

Of the purchase orders of Rs 317.77 crore placed by OSMCL in 2019-20, orders of Rs 62.89 crore were given to 87 suppliers for 178 items since January. Once the order is placed, the supplier has to deliver the drugs within 70 days.

Citing reasons emanating out of coronavirus situation, the six suppliers have requested for phase-supply without any penalty. 

Chinese hubs shut shop

However, Managing Director of OSMCL Yamini Sarangi said, shortage of drugs is unlikely for the next few months as the stock is usually maintained for at least five months depending on the consumption pattern.

“No decision has been taken to allow the suppliers for supply in phases. We are keeping a close watch on the situation,” she added.

The pharma industry, which claims to have maintained stock for at least six months, is set to face shortage in finished drug formulations if supplies are not streamlined in the next couple of months.

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