Given the supply disruption in essential items such as masks, gloves and sanitisers in the time of a viral outbreak, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Regulator (NPPR) has sought data from companies on production and distribution.
In a March 13 order, the NPPR has asked all essential items makers to submit data (in requisite format) to government by March 18. Failing to do so would invite penal action.
The data, said sources, is mainly pertaining to production volumes, capacity, exports, domestic sales and distribution along with prices.
Sanitisers are a Rs 300-350- crore industry in India and in the past month the demand has jumped ten times, claimed industry sources. Manufacturers are registered with state FDAs and there is no centralised database for the same. Prices of masks (especially N95) and santisers as well as gloves have shot up significantly.
Masks, for example, are selling for Rs 40-50 apiece, up from Rs 10 a piece. Similarly, for N95 masks, which are considered to be more effective against viruses, the prices have shot up from Rs 150 per unit to Rs 500 or so.
The health ministry has placed orders for eight million masks and other protective gear for health care workers.
Sensing this supply-demand disruption, the government last week invoked the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, to declare these items as essential commodities till June 30.