June 11: The market is currently reeling under shortage of paracetamol due to production cuts, artificial shortage and high demand for the essential drug in the market. In the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a massive surge in demand for paracetamol, a primary drug used for containing fever.
Sitaram Regmi, president of the Federation of Nepal Medical Entrepreneurs, said that the demand for paracetamol has been a record high since the month of April and it still remains high. “The demand for paracetamol has increased by 10 percent. Since the industries have also cut down the production, the market is witnessing a shortage,” he said. He added that customers are not getting easy access to the drug also due to artificial shortage.
According to Regmi, production of paracetamol has also declined by 10 percent. He complained that although the industries can increase the production capacity up to 20 percent, they have not stepped up production.
Industries producing paracetamol had reduced the production of the drug since April. Citing that the production cost of medicines like paracetamol, zinc, Vitamin C, doxycycline, and azithromycin used in treating COVID-19 patients is high, they have reduced the production of these medicines.
The Nepal Pharmaceutical Association, has informed that the industries have cut down production due to the increasing price of raw materials. Narayan Chhetri, President of the Association, said that the price of the medicines fixed fourteen years ago is still unchanged. In spite of this, industries were producing medicines incurring losses. But lately, shortages of raw materials have led to a decline in the production.
Umesh Lal Shrestha, who was at the helm of the Association in 2008, said pricing of drugs doesn't even cover the production cost of the medicine.
“Not any government has ever extended support to the industries. The government policy is not supportive enough to solve the problems of entrepreneurs and help develop the industry,” said Shrestha.
He further added that the practice of stockpiling paracetamol is the major reason behind the shortage.