Niti Aayog meets Top pharma execs to find ways to mitigate coronavirus impact; DoP seeks export ban on 12 APIs
The meeting was attended by Biocon's Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Zydus' Pankaj Patel and Dr Reddy's Laboratories' Satish Reddy and other top pharma execs
New Delhi: Government think-tank Niti Aayog along with top executives of pharma industry and senior officials on Wednesday discussed ways to boost domestic manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), amid concerns over supply disruption from China due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The meeting, chaired by Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, came a day after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government would soon announce measures to deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the domestic industry.
China, which is battling the coronavirus epidemic, is a major supplier of bulk drugs and drug intermediaries to the Indian market. There are concerns about supply disruptions and a possible rise in medicine prices.
Sources said a host of measures were discussed at the meeting on Wednesday to boost domestic manufacturing of APIs and reduce dependence on their imports from China.
The meeting was attended by Pharmaceuticals Department Secretary P D Vaghela, Biocon's Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Zydus' Pankaj Patel and Dr Reddy's Laboratories' Satish Reddy.
Senior executives from Sun Pharma, Aurobindo, Jubilant Life Sciences, Cipla, Mylan, Alembic and Themis also participated in the meeting. Presidents of Bulk Drug Manufacturers Association, Indian Drug Manufacturers Association and Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance were also present.
"Fruitful, constructive & positive meeting with captains of industry in pharmaceutical sector to discuss the options for domestic manufacturing of critical APIs on which India is import dependent. Consensus arrived at on a range of policy measures for creating ecosystem in India," Kant said in a tweet after the meeting.
He also said the government would take all necessary steps to support the industry in its endeavours.
China accounted for 67.56 per cent of total imports of bulk drugs and drug intermediates at USD 2,405.42 million to India in 2018-19.
Separately, the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) has asked the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to issue orders restricting export of 12 APIs and formulations.
The DoP has already constituted a high-level panel to assess the impact of the outbreak of the deadly virus in China on the supply of APIs to India.
Official sources had said that Indian drugmakers have told the high-level committee that they currently have stocks for the next two-three months.
There has been no supply from the neighbouring country for the past 20-25 days, mainly due to Chinese New Year holidays, sources had said.
According to an official statement issued on Wednesday after the meeting, Kant exhorted the industry to become internationally competitive and go for a global scale of operations.
The DoP shared its vision and recent efforts in promoting bulk drug parks in the country, the statement said.
"Issues related to environmental clearances were discussed in detail and industry was promised fast approvals," it added.
On Tuesday, Zydus Group Chairman Pankaj Patel said prices of key pharmaceutical ingredients could rise if the coronavirus situation in China does not improve soon.
Describing pharmaceutical, chemical and solar equipment sectors as the worst affected, Sitharaman on Tuesday said said disruptions are visible in these due to delay in shipment.
She had met representatives from various sectors on Tuesday.