lockdown impact on pharma sector: Pharma companies in panic mode as lockdown hits supply chain

MUMBAI: India’s pharma companies are in a panic mode and fear drug shortage, as the national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led to disruption in the supply chain of medicines. Cops in local level are restricting the movement of goods and people even of those who are engaged in delivery of essential services, they say.

Even though the national lockdown announced on Wednesday night exempts essential services and commodities like medicines, vegetables, milk including their supply chain, there are reports of harassment and detainment by local cops.

The ban on public transportation is making it difficult for labourers to reach manufacturing plants. All the ancillary goods required for medicine production are getting detained or are shut. Printers that manufacture packaging for medicines are shut, vehicles of suppliers of packaging materials for medicines are getting detained, truck carrying coal for powering a manufacturing site of pharma company is not allowed to pass through and the flight shutdown has led to goods being stuck in different parts of the country that needs to be airlifted.

IPCA labs which was supposed to deliver 5 lakh blisters of hydroxyqcholorine (HCQS) tablets to Central Government by Tuesday, but had to wait two days to get permission to airlift its tables from Siliguri. HCQS was recommended by the ICMR for high risk health care workers dealing with covid-19 patients. Though companies are sitting on raw materials that can produce 10 crore tablets, the lockdowns are making the final production of these essentials difficult to complete, A K Jain, Joint MD IPCA told ET.

Vinay Pinto, MD of Wallace Labs, another manufacturer of the hydroxychloroquine tablet told ET that the company has got several calls from state government to supply these tablets but it is unable to do. Its manufacturing plant in Nalagarh in Himachal Pradesh was asked to shut down by local authorities. ”In the interest of million of Indians, we are desperately trying to restart our plant, but we can’t because we are not allowed to open our manufacturing site, our people can’t reach the site because of lockdowns”, Mr Pinto said.

Companies have been negotiating with local level officials in state governments, customs departments to relax paper work required for the passage of drugs. They say that in district and state level the lack of communication from the Central government has led to confusion.

Mumbai based Generico that runs low cost pharmacy chains in Mumbai, said that it was able to open 24 of its 50 stories in the city, as the pharmacists couldn’t make it to shops because of shut down of local trains.

“We need some sort of curfew pass issued by local authorities that ensures our employees are not harassed or detained. This needs to be done urgently, otherwise we will see medicine stock outs”, said Siddharth Gadia, founder Generico.

On Tuesday one of its employee walked 10 kms or roughly for three hours to reach the store to keep it open.

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