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Modi govt could curb Paracetamol export too as lockdown continues in coronavirus-hit China

Paracetamol could be added to the government’s list of 12 APIs, including antibiotics, vitamins and hormone pills, for export restrictions.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government plans to restrict export of top-selling generic drug, Paracetamol, as its supplies remain disrupted due to the continuing lockdown in coronavirus-hit China, ThePrint has learnt.

Paracetamol is the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) — raw material used to manufacture drugs — for medicines such as Crocin, Calpol and Sumo. It is used to treat common aches and fever.

Earlier, a proposal was submitted to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to impose export restrictions on 12 drug ingredients — including antibiotics, hormone pills and vitamins.

On Wednesday, a government-appointed panel monitoring the availability of drug raw materials in India sent a recommendation to the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, proposing restrictions on export of Paracetamol and its formulations.

“The committee has come to a conclusion that inventory of Paracetamol is stocked for a shorter period, generally, not exceeding 15-20 days. Hence, if required, the government could curb its exports,” said a senior government official, who did not wish to be named.

The government formed the committee under the chairmanship of the joint drug controller, Central Drug Standards Control Organisation.

If the DoP gives its nod, Paracetamol will be added to the list of 12 drug ingredients that have been proposed for export curbs. A submission for curbs on them was made to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) last week.

According to data by healthcare research firm IQVIA, India sells over 200 Paracetamol brands. “In 2017-18, 4.77 lakh (paracetamol) tablets worth Rs 1,008 crore were sold in India,” said an IQVIA report.

Also read: India’s production lines are being hurt by extended factory shutdowns in China

Imports from China affected

The latest move comes after the DoP passed a memorandum last week that said, “The government of India is closely monitoring the supply of APIs, intermediaries and key starting materials (KSMs), which are imported from China, and effect of the outbreak of novel coronavirus on their supply.”

The Indian pharmaceutical industry imports around 70 per cent of its total bulk drugs requirements from China, which is currently under a lockdown as it battles coronovirus outbreak.

In view of the current situation, the government panel recommended to impose restrictions on the export of 12 APIs and formulations. The are antibiotics such as Azithromycin, Amoxicillin, Ofloxacin, Gentamicin and Metronidazole, neuropathic drug Gabapentin, vitamin tablets and capsules such as B12, B1, B6, and E, female hormone progesterone and anti-cardiac arrest drug Atorvastatin.

Also read: Why India will be more vulnerable if there is a coronavirus outbreak


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