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Lockdown impact: Govt may prohibit export of anti-TB medicines to avoid shortage in India

Lockdown impact: Govt may prohibit export of anti-TB medicines to avoid shortage in India

Lockdown impact: Govt may prohibit export of anti-TB medicines to avoid shortage in India
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By Timsy Jaipuria  Apr 22, 2020 6:27 AM IST (Updated)

To avoid any stress on domestic consumption, Health Secretary Preeti Sudan has suggested that the government should prohibit export of anti-TB drugs until normalcy returns.

Due to the shortage of manpower and raw-material following the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, the Health Ministry has flagged the shortage of anti-tuberculosis drugs in the country.

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To avoid any stress on domestic consumption, Health Secretary Preeti Sudan has suggested that the government should prohibit exports until normalcy returns.
"In view of emergency measures undertaken, the availability of limited manpower and material (API) to the pharmaceutical industry, the production capacity of the leading anti-TB drug manufacturers of India has been affected," Sudan said in a letter dated April 17, a copy of which was seen by CNBC-TV18.
The letter is addressed to Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, who also chairs the empowered committee on supply chain and logistics management.
Sudan has requested Iyer's committee to prohibit the export of these medicines until the situation improves.
"Under these circumstances, needless to emphasise that the situation calls for extraordinary measures...Therefore, it is requested the empowered group may issue directions to… Department of pharmaceuticals and department of commerce for their intervention in this regard and also issue necessary directions for prohibiting export of anti-TB medicines while considering mandatorily the need of the country," the letter read.
Manufacturers had raised the issue of anti-TB drugs with the government. Lupin and Macleods Pharma are in a government contract under the National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP) to manufacture anti-TB drugs.
Sudan's letter said that suppliers have communicated that the anti-TB drug supplies will be delayed because of "force majeure" due to COVID-19 response activities, limited material for production, limited manpower (due to restrictions) and limited transportation facilities.
"Leading anti-TB drug manufacturers and at present, having contract agreements with NTEP are Macleods Pharmaceuticals and Lupin Pharmaceuticals. Their major factories are at Ankleshwar and Bharuch, Gujarat; Baddi in Himachal Pradesh and Daman in Daman and Diu," it letter read.
These companies manufacture drugs for the first line of treatment. They supply fixed dose combination drugs containing isoniazaide, rifampicin, pyrizinamide, elthambutol in various doses and combinations.
Sudan's letter was also marked to Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan for appropriate action as the Commerce Ministry's wing – DGFT – deals with export and import in the country.
The letter was also marked to secretary pharmaceuticals and secretary fertilizers and chemicals, for "their intervention in this regard and also to issue necessary directions for prohibiting exports and ensuring smooth supply of anti-TB drugs in the country so that the NTEP does not face any problem in receiving these anti TB drugs."
Sudan has requested Iyer to contact all chief secretaries of states and union territories. She said, "Chief secretaries of concerned states and duties should instruct the concerned authorities in the states to ensure the transportation services are available to maintain the supplies of finished products, the related officials/workers/ labourers are able to reach production site from their different districts or from the nearby states of the manufacturing plant of these companies."
According to data, an estimated 4.5 lakh people died of TB in the country in 2018. India features among the 30 countries with the highest TB burden, and is the single-largest source of new cases.
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