MUMBAI: IPCA Labs has said there is a large supply of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), the much-touted drug being used for treating certain Covid-19 patients, with the capacity in India built for global markets besides meeting the country’s demand. The Mumbai based pharmaceutical company is one of the two largest manufacturers of HCQ.
IPCA is not part of the US supply line at present due to logistical issues, but hopes to catch up soon in about a month’s time. It is, for now, helping the Indian government to build its buffer stock of 10 crore dosages, and an additional 3-4 crore dosages for state governments. The cost of producing the drug “is moving up with certain solvents and chemicals used in it more than doubling”. “But we will absorb them,” says Ipca Labs joint MD A K Jain, adding the hit on margins will be minimal with large volumes being sold.
“We have a completely integrated plant with key starting materials and raw materials (APIs), and we are ramping up production to 26 metric tonnes over the next one and a half months. A greenfield plant cannot be set up to meet the demand. So, we are identifying and sorting the bottlenecks. We will be adding additional packing lines at the same facility where HCQ is manufactured, ordering additional machine parts (for filtration and reactors) and excipients, and getting the government’s clearances required for any proposed increase,” he told TOI.
Also, for domestic orders as well as exports — packing materials, bottles, aluminium, cartons — the entire supply chain has to be upgraded. The company was producing around 3 metric tonnes per month, and will now produce 20 metric tonnes (about 10 crore pills). “There are no supply chain issues (for us), and even in the peak of China lockdown in February-March, we did not face disruption in production as the import of basic chemicals was another part of China, not Wuhan,” he clarified.
Alkem, Torrent, Wallace, Micro Labs and Cipla are other manufacturers, but produced minimal quantities in March.