Worried by the spread of deadly coronavirus (COVID-19), Indian pharma companies have asked the government to set up a mechanism under which imports of raw materials (active pharmaceutical ingredients) from China, are tested in laboratories, once imports are resumed.
Industry body Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA) recently raised concerns about the possible spread of an infection, and wanted the mechanism to be put in place, once imports from China resumed.
India imported Rs 17,400-crore worth of APIs from China in FY19. APIs for manufacturing cardio-vascular, diabetes, antibiotics, anti-infectives and vitamins are imported, while for certain APIs, dependence on China is 80-90%.
A similar directive was issued for agriculture shipments from China, and sent to importers, exporters and plant quarantine offices nationwide on February 5.
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“We have asked the government to have the samples inspected in laboratories, or get them cleared by agencies (like Indian Council of Medical Research) to rule out any contamination”, Daara Patel, secretary-general, IDMA told.
Most pharma ingredients and intermediates imported from China are produced in Hubei province or adjoining areas, while Wuhan, Hubei’s capital, is the epicentre of the outbreak.
If the production stoppage prolongs in regions like Hubei, it would have an impact on Indian industry, with a possible spike in prices, and shortages.
Last week, Cipla and Lupin top management said after their earnings’ call that they have stocks available for two-three months.