COVID-19: India has enough stocks of APIs & formulations, says govt

While the NPPA has denied any shortage of APIs and formulations, it has also not received any reference from pharma associations regarding steep increase in price of medicines due to outbreak of COVID-19 in China

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New Delhi: “The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has informed that they have not received any reference regarding the shortage of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients. The Indian Drugs Manufacturers Association (IDMA) has assured that its members have enough stocks of APIs and formulations,” revealed the Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mr D.V. Sadananda Gowda while answering a question in the upper house of the Indian Parliament (Rajya Sabha) recently.

NPPA has also informed that they have not received any reference from pharma associations regarding steep increase in price of medicines due to outbreak of COVID-19 in China. The AIOCD AWACS has reported increase in drug prices for month ending February 2020 at 0.6 %.  Further, NPPA has issued D.O dated 20th March, 2020 to Chief Secretaries of all the States /UTs to monitor the production and availability of APIs and their formulations to prevent black marketing and hoarding and to ensure price compliance as per the Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO,2013) under intimation to NPPA. NPPA has also written to Pharma Associations in the matter. NPPA is monitoring the situation regularly to ensure that ceiling prices of essential medicines are not breached.

Further, Department of Pharmaceuticals has constituted a Committee under the chairmanship of  Dr. Eshwara Reddy, Joint Drugs Controller, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) to address the issue of drug security in the country in the context of novel coronavirus outbreak in China. Based on the recommendations of the Committee, the department has issued necessary instructions to National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) and Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) to ensure adequate supply of APIs and formulations at affordable prices in the market and to prevent black-marketing, illegal hoarding, creating artificial shortages in the country. In this regard, Department of Pharmaceuticals has written to DGFT to restrict exports of 13 API and formulations made using these APIs.

The Indian Pharmaceutical industry is 3rd largest in the world in terms of volume and 14th largest in terms of value. India exported medicines worth US $14389 mn in Financial Year 2018-19. India also exported Bulk Drug/Drug Intermediates worth US $ 3911mn in Financial Year 2018-19. However, the country also imports various Bulk Drugs/Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) for producing medicines. Two-thirds of the total imports of Bulk Drugs/Drug Intermediates is from China. The imports from China are mainly due to economic considerations. The details of India’s imports of Bulk Drugs/Drug Intermediates (including from China) are as under:

Year

Total Imports

(US $ mn)

Imports from China

(US$ mn)

Percent of Imports from China

2018-19

3560.35

2405.42

67.56%

“The policies formulated by the Government from time to time are designed to minimize the country’s dependence on imports and to give a fillip to indigenous manufacturing,” said Mr Gowda while adding that in this direction, the Department of Pharmaceuticals has formulated a scheme namely ‘Assistance to Bulk Drug Industry for Common Facility Centre’ for providing assistance to bulk drug industry for common facility centre in any upcoming bulk drug park promoted by state governments and corporations.