National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has issued a letter to all the State and Union Territories’ chief secretaries asking to issue/pass suitable instructions to district administrations/concerned authorities to facilitate the pharmaceutical companies and ensure unobstructed movement of raw materials, packaging materials, and manpower required to accomplish work-related to production, packaging and distribution during the lockdown period.
After the lockdown announcement made by PM Modi, to prevent community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, the pharma industry along with retail chemists, wholesalers, pharma C&F agents of drugs and medicines and other members associated with the supply chain started facing a problem in the movement of goods, especially during the initial days of lockdown.
S V Veerramani, Chairman and Managing Director, Fourrts Laboratories said, “The Government doesn’t want a shortage of medicine supply in the country and for that, they are taking all necessary steps. However, due to the lockdown in the country and lack of understanding at various levels of state administration mainly with road transportation and police authorities, it has become very difficult for the movement of goods. They are stopping the goods and not allowing our people to reach pharma units, distribution centres and to fulfil the required demands. Hence we urge the local and state authorities to instruct the police authorities and allow the movement of goods.”
The government has already exempted manufacturing units of essential goods, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, their raw materials and intermediate raw materials from the nationwide lockdown.
However, pharma companies started facing problems in the movement of stocks and manpower, which may hamper the production and supply of medicines and medical devices. This is likely to impact the availability of these products in the markets.
Rajesh Gupta, All India Head-Pharma, Laghu Udyog Bharti said, “Today, the government is providing the truck facility to load goods. However, other logistics services, which are considered as essential services are still facing problems. We at HP, fall under the three hubs of Haryana, Mohali and Chandigarh. Majority of the pharma companies’ directors reside in these places and are facing problems to reach to their manufacturing units due to cross state borders. As we know pharma is highly ancillary dependent sector and our appeal to the respective authority is to allow our stocks to reach to stockists and net retailers, which are ready at different pharma units.”
The government has already issued a guideline to take effective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country. However, manufacturing plants of most pharma companies are functioning at just 50 per cent capacity, with minimum staff.