India, the world’s largest provider of generic drugs, decided restrict exports of a dozen active ingredients of medicines, a measure implemented to protect inventories at risk from the coronavirus outbreak.
The total of the products seized by the measure represents about 10% of the medical ingredients exported by India, supplier of almost 20% of the world’s generics.
In the General Directory of Indian Foreign Trade, the government agency in charge of putting the decision into operation, assured that the measure has come into operation this Wednesday and will continue until further notice. Although the new policy does not completely prohibit export, shipments of these drugs are subject to the consideration of the authorities and to the supply of the local market.
According to a Board official, who requested anonymity, most Chinese companies that make more than 50% of the ingredients that India uses are partially operating. In addition, the logistics sector operations still do not function at full capacity, which the production chain has stagnated. “This will probably continue like this until the end of March,” he said.
United States, Iran, Italy and China, They are among the first buyers of Indian pharmaceuticals, however it is not clear what immediate impact this measure will have for those countries, some of them heavily affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The restriction imposed by the pharmaceutical power, which controls an annual world drug market of 19,000 million dollars, on a series of active principles was taken to guarantee inventories in the event of an eventual outbreak in this country of 1,250 million inhabitants, said a source of the Department of Pharmaceutical Products.
The active ingredients affected
The decision limits the export of 13 active ingredients (in English API) that include the Paracetamol, a medication used to relieve pain and fever; the Acyclovir, an antiviral drug, and antibiotics Metronidazole, Neomycin, Tinidazole, Ornidazole, Chloramphenicol, Clindamycin, and Erythromycin, as well as any formulation derived from these.
The authorities have not specified whether some of these active ingredients are necessary for the treatment of the disease, however the measure seeks to protect the sector and local supply of a prolonged interruption of production.
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The Indian Government further restricted lexport of vitamins B1, B6, and B12; and the progesterone, used as hormone replacement therapy for women.
According to the Department of Pharmaceutical Products, the Asian country has an API inventory that “It should be enough for two or three months”, so there is no reason for alarm in this regard, provided that the situation in China returns to normal in the short term.
India has been increasing security measures as the risks of an epidemic increase, especially this week when positive cases of coronavirus they went from three to 28 confirmed infections in less than three days.
On February 8, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry imposed an export ban on all protective equipment, including certain types of masks and gloves, which limited shipment of necessary supplements in China to deal with the spread of the virus.
The Foreign Ministry explained that export restrictions on certain medical equipment have been made since these items are scarce in India as well. “Like any other country, India, with over a billion inhabitants, is responsible for taking the necessary measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, which, if not properly managed, can become a global risk, “the ministry said in a statement a week ago.
The Indian Government has released instructions to guarantee supply Adequate use of active ingredients and their formulations at affordable prices in the local market and the increase in measures to contain the black market, and hoarding, which can create an “artificial shortage in the country”. Furthermore, the regional authorities have been tasked with monitoring the production and availability of APIs and their formulations.