NEW DELHI: Even as the steady spread of coronavirus sparks panic in global markets, India’s pharmaceutical sector regulator, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), has written to all states and Union Territories to keep a “close watch” on the supply of raw materials needed to manufacture medicines.
The CoVid-19 infection has resulted in over 2,750 fatalities across the world so far, with the large majority of deaths concentrated in China, the epicentre of the outbreak. Cases have emerged across other countries such as South Korea, Singapore Japan, Iran and Italy.
While all segments that have a significant portion of their value chains in China are in danger of facing severe shortages of critical materials including components and raw materials, the Indian pharma sector’s plight is particularly vulnerable since several critical Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) are imported from the northern neighbour.
“The key drug industry associations have assured the government that there is enough stock of APIs and formulations in the country,” NPPA chairman Shubhra Singh said in the letter, but added that “as a measure of public health preparedness in respect of APIs/Intermediates/KSMs that are imported from China, it is requested that the state governments and UTs closely monitor their production and availability to prevent black marketing and hoarding”.
The head of the NPPA also asked concerned officials to ensure compliance of provisions under the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), 2013, as far as prices are concerned.
“It may also be ensured that there is no violation of provisions with regard to compliance of ceiling prices/permissible increase in prices,” Singh said, warning that in the case of any violation “necessary action should be taken to ensure availability of life-saving essential drugs to the consumers at all times”.
Just two weeks earlier, the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) had asked the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to restrict the export of 12 APIs and formulations, including antibiotics such as Neomycin.
Two weeks ago, the department of pharmaceuticals had asked DGFT to restrict the export of 12 APIs and formulations including anti-biotics such as Chorampheni-col, Neomycin, and Metronidazole.