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Friday, April 3, 2020

World Fears Drug Shortage as India Limits Export Due to Coronavirus Outbreak

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The world is battling a Coronavirus outbreak which is seeing a rapid increase in number of cases outside of China. In the midst of the outbreak, there are other worries that the world is faced with, one of them is the supply of common drugs.

For the unaware, India is the largest supplier of generic drugs in the world. It has recently limited the export of certain medical supplies due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus may affect people health in an indirect way

With the largest supplier of generic drugs, India – restricting its exports, the world faces another health impact due to the non-availability of essential drugs. This can impact those who may not be directly infected by Coronavirus but need these essential drugs. This way the current outbreak has another indirect implication on the world’s health.

India has presently restricted exports of 26 ingredients and the medicines most of them are antibiotics. This creates a problem for the rest of the world, which relies on India’s drug makers for much of its supply of generic drugs. India exported about $19 billion of drugs last year and accounted for about one-fifth of the world’s exports of generics by volume, according to the India Brand Equity Foundation.

The restricted drugs include Paracetamol, one of the world’s most widely-used pain relievers. India’s drug makers rely on China for almost 70% of the active ingredients in their medicines, and industry experts have warned that they are likely to face shortages if the epidemic continues.

“Even drugs that aren’t produced in China get their base ingredients from China. Globally there could be a shortage if China and India both get hit,” warned analyst Shaun Rein from the China Market Research Group.

The Indian government has urged calm over the situation

The Indian government has urged calm over the situation

The Indian government has urged calm over its announcement and said there were enough stocks to last for up to three months.

Especially hit will this development will be the US, which in 2018 exported almost a quarter of its medicine requirement and more than 30% of medicine ingredients, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told US senators on Tuesday that the agency is working to determine how the restrictions will affect America’s medical supply and its effect on essential medicines.

Major US pharmaceutical companies have said they are monitoring their supply chains.

Mylan warned last week that there could be drug shortages, while Eli Lilly said it does not expect the coronavirus outbreak to result in shortages for any of its therapies, including insulin products.

Drugmakers are already struggling to get vital raw ingredients for common antibiotics and vitamins from Chinese factories, which were closed for weeks as China was battling to contain the coronavirus. Now, even as some of the country’s factories have restarted, shortages of some drugs may develop.

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