Deccan Chronicle

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw fears shortage of drugs due to Covid-19 outbreak

Deccan Chronicle| Chandrashekar G

Published on: February 19, 2020 | Updated on: February 19, 2020

India is heavily dependent on China for 39 life-saving drugs

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

Bengaluru: The Indian health care and pharmaceutical sectors are going to be hit hard by the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as they are dependent on China for APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients). This is likely to lead to a shortage of drugs and an increase in the prices of some drugs.

India relies heavily on China for 39 different life-saving drugs. Industry leaders brainstormed with government authorities and experts on Wednesday to mitigate the crisis and also utilize the opportunity to minimize their dependence on China.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairman and managing director (CMD) of Biocon, said, "There is a worry that if the coronavirus outbreak continues for long, there will be a shortage of APIs and therefore drugs. However, the government has understood the seriousness of the problem and a lot of steps will be taken to ensure we deal with the crisis in the best possible way."

Many of the existing facilities can be put to better use for producing more pharmaceuticals in the country. The government has extended its support to expedite the environment and regulatory processes. It has also assured support to scaling up the business so that India can regain its leadership in the pharmaceutical arena, she added.  

Fortunately, the coronavirus has not been a problem in India. The World Health Organisation has clarified that there has been no further spread of the virus in China. It has brought hope that it will be contained and will start receding.

"Right now, India is not importing any API but it is expected to happen very soon. There may be an increase in the prices of drugs but not very alarmingly. About 39 life-saving drugs have been identified where there is high reliance on China. However, Indian companies are confident of producing it," added Mazumdar Shaw.

India supplies a large chunk of generic medicines, and so the situation caused by the coronavirus could be alarming not just for India but for the entire world. "We need to take immediate steps to convert this crisis into an opportunity and be in a state of preparedness to face any challenge," said a source associated with the pharma sector.

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