Paracetamol prices up 40% as coronavirus shuts China

Prices of paracetamol have jumped by 40% in India, while the cost of azithromycin has risen by 70%,

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NEW DELHI: India is facing the ripple effects of shutdowns in China with production of medicines being hit as supply chain disruptions prolong.

Prices of paracetamol, the most commonly used analgesic, have jumped by 40% in India, while the cost of azithromycin, an antibiotic used for treating a variety of bacterial infections, has risen by 70%, said Pankaj R Patel, chairman of Zydus Cadila.

The pharma industry could face shortages in finished drug formulations starting April if supplies aren’t restored by the first week of next month, he said.

The coronavirus, which has killed more than 1,000 people and stoked fears of a broader slowdown in China, has disrupted global supply lines after factories there slowed production and people were restricted from moving in and out of the country.

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As manufacturers based in China restart factories, nations such as India that depend heavily on imports of some raw material and intermediate goods from the mainland continue to face uncertainty.

Patel sees a substantial increase in prices of active pharmaceutical ingredients — the basic substance used to make drugs — in the short- to medium-term.

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 requirement.