March 4: India, the world’s main supplier of generic drugs, has restricted the export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and the medicines made from them, as the coronavirus outbreak plays havoc with supply chains, according to Reuters.
The news agency reported that those drugs also include Paracetamol, a common pain reliever. Nevertheless, the Indian government urged calm and said there is enough stock to manufacture drugs for two to three months.
The government’s list of 26 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and medicines accounts for 10 pewrcent of all Indian pharmaceutical exports and includes several antibiotics, such as tinidazole and erythromycin, the hormone progesterone and Vitamin B12, Reuters added.
It was unclear how the restriction would impact the availability of these medicines in the countries that import from India and also depend on China.
Indian drugmakers largely rely on China, the country where the coronavirus outbreak originated, for almost 70 percent of the APIs for their medicines. Experts say they are likely to face shortages if the epidemic drags on.
"Export of specified APIs and formulations made from these APIs... is hereby 'restricted' with immediate effect and till further orders," Reuters quoted the Director General of Foreign Trade as saying in a statement on Tuesday, without explaining the extent of the restrictions.
Dinesh Dua, chairman of the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India, reportedly said some of these molecules may face shortages for the next couple of months irrespective of the ban.
He further said if coronavirus is not contained, it could cause acute shortages.
In a statement, the Indian federal government said state authorities had been asked to monitor the production and availability of APIs and formulations to prevent black marketing and hoarding.