14 February 2020
Shimla: Shortage of life-saving drugs procured by Indian pharmaceutical companies from China has severely hit the output in Asia's largest pharmaceutical hub Baddi in Himachal Pradesh, trade insiders said on Friday.
They attribute the acute shortage mainly of paracetamol and antibiotic azithromycin to the closure of pharmaceutical units in China following the coronavirus outbreak. Also, the shortage of raw material has led to a spike in rates.
Indian drug manufacturers, mainly concentrated in Baddi, depend on Chinese companies and suppliers for close to 90 per cent raw material, a drug manufacturer said.
"Each drug manufacturer normally maintains a stock of raw material for a month or so. Ahead of the Chinese New Year (in February), we prefer to have a buffer stock for two months. This time with the coronavirus outbreak, the supply was hampered for over a month. If the crisis continues, it will drastically hit the overall production of many drugs," a Baddi-based drug manufacturer told IANS.
According to him, the shortage of raw material resulted in price rise.
Paracetamol's salt, which was available for around Rs 270 a kg, is now costing up to Rs 400 a kg.
Likewise, the raw material of azithromycin that cost Rs 7,500 a kg is now available for Rs 10,500 kg.
Trade insiders say Indian drug industry also depends highly on China for packaging material and vials.
Chandigarh Chemist Association General Secretary Vinay Jain said there is no need to panic at this point as most of the companies have sufficient buffer stock of medicines for at least three-four months.
"If the Chinese companies remain shut for a longer duration, then there is a matter of concern. We are hopeful the supply chain of raw material will be restored soon," he said.