Hyderabad: Active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), raw materials to make medicines, are imported by pharmaceutical companies from China. There is concern that the coronavirus could be transmitted through these materials or through the containers that import these materials into India.
The API and intermediates come in tonnes to India from China. The manufacturers are located in different parts of China. India is one of the biggest importers of API and intermediates for the pharmaceutical industry.
With the partial shutdown in China, the bulk manufacturers of pharmaceutical ingredients India are worried. Hyderabad is one of the main drug-makers in India. A bulk manufacturer of intermediate materials for medicines in Hyderabad explained, “We get our intermediate material from the part of China which is so far not affected. But we do not know if the production is going to resume after the Chinese New Year. There is a lot of confusion as the virus infection has led to shutdown in most parts of China. They are also not sure and have asked us to wait.”
There is concern among the manufacturers who have their production schedules chalked out about the supply of APIs. The manufacturers are also worried whether these materials will be subjected to checks at different levels before being sent out to India.
A senior researcher with a private company said that API is the active chemical of the medicine which helps to fight the disease. “The coronavirus spread has led to concern whether it can contaminate the material. Since the etiology of the virus is not known there is a lot of worry. Can it stick to the containers, boxes or materials in which these API’s are transported,” he asked.
These are huge shipments which come in containers and there are no checks at the ports for the materials. A senior researcher with the company explained, “The quarantine which is practiced for humans has to also be implemented at the material level. There will be checks in China too. But we will have to do our own checking if the spread is not contained. Once the etiology is known the exact behaviour of the virus will be clear. We have to wait till then.” For a long time, the government of India has been trying to get APIs manufactured in India but it has not been very successful as it involves high costs....