Prolonged coronavirus outbreak in China could hurt Indian pharma sector

Indian pharma firms are closely monitoring the outbreak of coronavirus in China as it could impact the supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients in the country, if the situation in the neighbouring nation does not improve soon.

China accounted for 67.56 per cent of total imports of bulk drugs and drug intermediates in 2018-19 at USD 2,405.42 million.

"The situation is being closely monitored by all companies. The government is seized of the issue and all are working in an integrated way to deal with the situation." Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) Secretary General Sudarshan Jain told PTI.

The areas being looked into are close monitoring of the developments, inventory of critical APIs / intermediates, evaluation of alternate sources where possible and regulatory approvals for environmental clearance for certain APIs where capacity is available, he added.

"India has a high dependence on fermentation-based APIs/ Intermediates namely antibiotics and vitamins. Companies have been maintaining 2-3 months inventory of these APIs and Intermediates," Jain said.

In similar vein, a Sanofi India spokesperson said: "It is too soon to predict any impact that the coronavirus outbreak might have. We are closely monitoring the situation to ensure we have no discontinuity in supply."

India imports bulk drugs/active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for producing medicines including certain essential medicines from China.

The government has earlier said most of the imports of the bulk drugs and APIs are being done because of economic considerations.

On the governmental front, India has cancelled all visas issued to foreign nationals coming from China as it stepped up efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus after 150 passengers were identified with symptoms of the deadly virus and sent to isolation units.

It has also stepped up screening of passengers at 21 airports as well as 12 major seaports and all minor ports.

The government has directed all 12 major ports to immediately put in place screening, detection and quarantine system for disembarking seafarers and cruise passengers as a preventive measure against the coronavirus outbreak.

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