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Indian generic drugmakers may face supply shortages from China if coronavirus drags on

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Indian companies procure almost 70 per cent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for their medicines from China

Shortages and potential price increases of generic drugs from India loom if the coronavirus outbreak disrupts suppliers of pharmaceutical ingredients in China past April, according to industry experts.

An important supplier of generic drugs to the world, Indian companies procure almost 70 per cent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for their medicines from China.

India’s generic drugmakers say they currently have enough API suppliers from China to cover their operations for up to about three months.

“We are comfortably placed with eight to 10 weeks of key inventory in place,” said Debabrata Chakravorty, Head of global sourcing and supply chain, Lupin, adding that the company does have some local suppliers for ingredients.

The outbreak and severe travel restrictions aimed at containing its spread has taken a toll on the world’s second-largest economy and disrupted international businesses dependant on Chinese supplies.

Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries said it has sufficient inventory of API and raw materials for the short term and has not seen any major disruption in supplies at the moment.

The company, however, said supply has been impacted for a few API products and the company is closely monitoring the situation. It did not identify the products.

Daara Patel, Secretary-General, Indian Drug Manufacturers Association, which represents over 900 drug producers, said he expects supplies to be disrupted from April.

Patel said vitamins and antibiotics are likely to be among the hardest hit as India is a major global producer of both.

International pharma companies including Swiss drugmaker Novartis and Britain-based GlaxoSmithKline have so far predicted minimal disruption in the near term to their supply chain.

Sudarshan Jain, Secretary-General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) trade group, said there are no API shortages at the moment because drugmakers had stocked up on inventory ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in China, which was later extended to contain the virus.

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