Amid rising cases of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), the captains of Indian pharma industry on Friday said there was no reason to panic over drug supplies in the domestic market. The industry, however, was unanimous that high level of dependence on one geography for key raw materials had to be reduced to mitigate risks.
Meanwhile, Gujarat-based Cadila Healthcare has launched an accelerated research programme for developing a vaccine for Covid-19 with multiple teams in India and Europe. Pankaj R Patel, chairman of Cadila Healthcare, said the vaccine candidate should be ready in 8-10 months with support from the regulators. “We felt a moral responsibility to step in as we have other flu vaccines, including swine flu, in our portfolio.”
Sun Pharma’s Dilip Shanghvi said the industry and government were working closely to reduce dependence on one country.
Plan is to build a few large clusters to make bulk drugs where manufacturers would be given incentives to produce low-value APIs. Concessions in terms of rates for power and water are likely to bring the industry on a par with Chinese counterparts.
India is capable of making all the ingredients that it now imports. Satish Reddy, chairman of Dr Reddy's Laboratories, said India missed out to China due to several factors, economies of scale being one. “We can make the ingredients here in India. We very much have the technology and capability to do so,” Reddy said.
According to the industry, all major players carry buffer stock of three months for key drugs and there is no need to worry immediately. Smaller firms have indicated that they were running out of raw material inventory as they did not carry buffer stock due to working capital concerns.
Lupin Managing Director Nilesh Gupta said his company was not affected much due the Chinese crisis as it was only one major API where they were dependent on Chinese imports. The industry said supplies from China had started to resume, however, it would take some time before it stabilised.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has asked states and Union Territories to keep a close watch on the availability of key raw materials that are imported from China and used in the production of all kinds of medicines.
Virus outbreak to impact global smartphone sales: Report
The outbreak may hit supplies of smartphone components from China to other countries at least till the second quarter of this year, according to research from Counterpoint Research.
“Our initial expectation was that the virus would be contained within two months and take three more months for things will get back to normal. We now expect Q1 PRC (People's Republic of China) sales to be down by around 25 per cent, compared to our original forecast. This is 18 per cent lower than Q1 last year. But this can worsen if the virus is not contained. Global sales will also go down 7 per cent compared to same period last year. Overall we think Q1 and Q2 will show negative growth both globally and in PRC before rebounding,” said Peter Richardson, research director at Counterpoint, in a blog on Thursday.
Visa on arrival for Japanese nationals suspended
India has temporarily suspended visa on arrival services for nationals of Japan and South Korea in view of the surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the countries, the Indian embassy said on Friday. The development comes a day after India evacuated 119 Indians and 5 foreigners who were on board the coronavirus-hit cruise ship, Diamond Princess, moored off the Japanese coast.