No shortage of drug ingredients for next 3 months, daily monitoring of coronavirus situation: Govt
The central government on Thursday asserted that there was no shortage of raw ingredients or medicines in the country for next three months and a group of ministers is monitoring the situation on a daily basis to ensure preparedness for the challenge posed by the coronavirus outbreak (officially known as COVID-19).
All initiatives are being taken to ensure there is no impact of the disease in India, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers D V Sadananda Gowda said.
"There is no shortage of any APIs in the country. We have sufficient APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients) and medicines in the country," he said, further adding, "for another three months there is no shortage for undertaking production in the pharma sector".
Gowda was addressing the 5th international exhibition and conference on pharmaceutical and medical industry organised by Department of Pharmaceuticals, Gujarat government and industry chamber FICCI.
"Our government has taken all initiatives to ensure that as far as our country is concerned, coronavirus should be stopped, and there is no hazard as far as this issue is concerned," he said.
Coronavirus is a challenge and "we should make all efforts that need to be taken...," he added.
Speaking on the preparedness for coronavirus in the country, Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizer Mansukh Mandaviya said the government has formed a group of ministers for this and it is tackling and monitoring the situation on a daily basis.
"A task force has also been set up regarding APIs and I am leading it. We have decided to increase the production of APIs in the country so that we are not dependent on any country for them," he said.
Mandaviya further said, "We have discussed in detail to ensure that we are able to sustain in the international markets regarding the APIs and we are shortly coming out with two policies. The benefit of these schemes will be for the API parks and medical drug parks. India will become self-sustained in APIs."
Talking about the restrictions imposed recently on exports of 26 APIs and formulations, he told reporters: "It is not a permanent measure and is being reviewed on daily basis. It has been done to ensure that there is no shortage of medicines in the country regarding coronavirus."
On Tuesday, India, the world's largest maker of generic drugs, restricted the export of common medicines such as paracetamol and 25 other pharmaceutical ingredients and drugs made from them, as it looks to prevent shortages amid concerns of the coronavirus outbreak turning into a pandemic.
Besides over-the-counter painkiller and fever reducer paracetamol, drugs restricted for exports include common antibiotics metronidazole, and those used to treat bacterial and other infections as well as Vitamin B1 and B12 ingredients.
A notification by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) stated that the export of 26 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and formulations would require licence.
"A crisis like this also provides a vision and we are also planning on how to grow in the API sector in future and ... we are coming with policies to ensure growth of APIs and medical device sector in the country. Action plan for this is being prepared and stakeholders consultation at secretary level has started," Mandaviya added.
Highlighting the importance of pharma sector in the country, the minister emphasised India is a developed country in the sector and despite global recession, the industry is growing at 12 percent and medical device sector is growing between 20-25 percent.
The government also launched 'Pharma Bureau', which will help facilitate both foreign as well as domestic investment in the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry in India. Pharma Bureau will act as a policy think tank to support the government as well as the industry.
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)