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Stock of insulin, cardiac drugs dips ‘below normal’ levels as India panic buys in lockdown

States and union territories have been instructed to ensure production and supply of cardiac and anti-diabetic medicines, including insulin.

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New Delhi: The stock of cardiac and anti-diabetic medicines, including insulin, is at “below normal” levels in the country, the drug availability watchdog National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has informed the Narendra Modi government.

The NPPA informed the health ministry’s Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), which controls quality and production of drugs and vaccines in India, of the situation in a letter dated 24 March.

The CDSCO had, on the same day, told states and union territories to take urgent measures and instruct drug makers to boost production.

“In the view of above, you are requested to take urgent necessary action to ensure sufficient availability of said drugs at all times to the patients continuously,” said the letter signed by V.G. Somani, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) who heads the CDSCO.

The letter added: “You are requested to issue instructions to the drug manufacturing companies to accelerate their operations and ensure the replenishment of stocks of medicines through wholesalers, distributors, retailers (and) chemists, so as to reach the hospitals or clinical establishments and patients timely.”

The letter, a copy of which was accessed by ThePrint, is also marked to NPPA chairman Shubhra Singh.

Diabetes and heart disease are common among Indians. India ranks second in the world for the incidence of diabetes, with an estimated 7.7 crore patients, according to the International Diabetes Foundation’s Diabetes Atlas.

Medical journal The Lancet found that “heart diseases and strokes” are among the top causes of death in India. It also found that the number of cardiovascular disease patients reportedly increased to 5.45 crore in 2016 from 2.57 crore in 1990.

Also read: Covid-19 with diabetes is more deadly. Here’s why you must control it during lockdown and how

Stock taking 

Rajiv Singhal, secretary general, All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), said chemists at the moment have stock for at least 10 days for anti-diabetic drugs including insulin and medicines for cardiovascular diseases.

“In the distribution chain, stock is for 25-30 days while companies are also refilling their stock,” he said.

The AIOCD is a lobby of 8.5 lakh chemists and distributors.

“While we are monitoring the situation closely, the stock has sunk below the normal threshold because of the panic buying of medicines,” Singhal added.

Normally, pharmacists have stock for 25 days whereas distributors have stock for 45 days.

The NPPA has also requested the CDSCO to collect details about the manufacturing capacity of anti-cardiac and anti-diabetic drugs, “especially insulin, aspirin and atorvastatin”, from drug makers.

The pro forma requires information on the name of manufacturer, name of importer, manufacturing capacity, production details for the months of February, March and April, and stock position as on 31 March and 15 April.

The CDSCO, in turn, has instructed states and union territories to provide the required information.

Also read: What patients of diabetes, asthma need to do to stay safe from COVID-19


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