February 24: The effect of COVID-19 virus that originated in China’s Wuhan nearly two months ago has been felt in the pharmaceutical industry of Nepal. Nepal imports raw materials for manufacturing pharmaceutical products from India, which has reportedly increased the price of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) by 50 percent due to the short supply from China.
Drug manufacturers in Nepal are worried that they may not be able to import the raw materials in the near future if the situation persists any longer.
They claimed that the price of raw materials for drugs has increased drastically due to the short supply from China, although a recent news published by Reuters stated that the Indian drug makers have sufficient stock of APIs at the moment.
Shortages and potential price hike of generic drugs in India are likely if the supply gets disrupted past April, Reuters said last week.
However, President of Nepal Drug Manufacturers Association, Narayan Bahadur Chhetri, says India has already increased the price of raw materials due to the shortage after China stopped supplying the products in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.
Nepali drug manufacturers are chiefly dependent on APIs from India, which also supplies a third of medicines sold in the United States. Any fluctuation in the price of medicines and raw materials is certain to affect the price in Nepal.
According to Reuters, Indian companies procure almost 70 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for their medicines from China.
Although Indian media have reported increase in price of raw materials for medicines due to the short supply, Reuters said India’s generic drugmakers currently have enough API supplies to cover their operations for up to three months.
“We are comfortably placed with eight to 10 weeks of key inventory in place,” Reuters quoted Debabrata Chakravorty, head of global sourcing and supply chain for Lupin Ltd, as saying in a recent interview.
Chhetri also maintained that although the price of raw materials has increased by 50 percent, the price of medicines have not increased for the time being as the Indian drug manufacturers have stock which can last for up to three months.
According to Reuters, the outbreak and severe travel restrictions aimed at containing its spread has taken a toll on the world’s second largest economy and disrupted international businesses dependant on Chinese supplies.
Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd said it has sufficient inventory of API and raw materials for the short term and has not seen any major disruption in supplies at the moment.
An extended outbreak that limits the volume of active ingredients and drugs available for export from China could lead to drug shortages and price increase, Reuters reported.
According to the news agency, secretary general of the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association, Daara Patel, said he expects supplies to be disrupted from April.
Patel said vitamins and antibiotics are likely to be among the hardest hit as India is a major global producer of both.