Import restrictions leading to non-clearance of imported pharma Key Starting Raw Materials (KSM’s), Intermediates, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API’s), COVID-related medical devices as well as diagnostics from ports, particularly from Nhava Sheva and Delhi Airport have created a fresh concern for the drug manufacturers of the country.
In an SOS letter to the top government departments, including the Prime Minister’s Office, Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India’s (Pharmexcil) chairman Dinesh Dua said the council has been inundated with distress calls from a lot of our member companies that there has been an acute disruption in manufacturing of pharmaceutical products.”
“Very critical KSM’s, intermediates and API’s are not being cleared for the reasons not known the industry at all. Even in the case of medical devices and diagnostics critical devices such as Infrared Thermometers and Pulse Oxi Meters, which are specifically aimed at COVID diagnosis as also Glucometers and Strips are also held up at Delhi Airport," Dua added.
Dua, who is also chairman of Nectar Lifesciences in his communication last week has said Atam Nirbharta principle will take its own time in a phased and considered manner, “Moves such as non-clearance of import consignments by customs are man-made disruptions creating tremendous difficulties for the industry.”
Pharmexcil has requested an urgent intervention by PMO, ministry of health and family welfare, department of pharmaceuticals, ministry of external affairs and commerce ministry to expedite import clearances by customs on top priority, to enable the industry to maintain the current 90-100 percent production and to ensure that the supply chain does not get diluted.
Also addressing their concerns to pharma secretary, PD Vaghela, Dua added that during current distressed and challenging times of global COVID-19 pandemic, pharmaceutical industry has risen to meet with the challenge and to continue to ensure that no shortages of any drug anywhere in the country happens, uninterrupted imports are necessary.
“Exports grew by 27 percent in May, 2020 over 2019 surpassing $2 billion. Also, India has been acknowledged as pharmacy to the world as the country keep on supplying critical COVID-related medicines to 100+ countries free of cost, earning a great goodwill for the country globally. With such import restrictions, it will be tough to be maintained,” said Dua in his letter to Vaghela.
“We have appealed to the government to kindly intervene in the matter on SOS basis and instruct the authorities that clearances from customs are permitted. All these materials which are genuine in nature are allowed to be cleared, dispatched to ensure there is no disruption of manufacturing at all under any circumstances happens,” Dua told CNBC-TV18, confirming the communication to the government.
India depends for 70 percent of its APIs used to manufacture drugs and medicines on China. Of its total production, India exports 24 percent of medicines to USA and 26 percent to EU. In 2019, China exported 10.12 million tonne of APIs, up 8.83 percent year-on-year, data from the China Chamber of Commerce showed. China exports APIs to 189 countries and regions, mainly in Asia, Europe and North America.
Not just Pharmexcil, many other industry bodies are seeing import restrictions which are hurting India's manufacturing cycle. Recently, union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressing a web rally from Chennai said India should re-look at its imports from China as India is importing even Ganesha idols from China and it’s not a healthy sign.
"The major sectors which are impacted by imports from China getting stuck are pharmaceuticals and electronics wherein around 50 percent of their raw material requirement i.e APIs in pharmaceutical industry and electronic components in electronics sector are dependent on supplies from China. In case of handicrafts, the raw material used is predominantly indigenously sourced and in very few cases embellishment and trimmings are imported from across the globe for export purposes hence the impact on the handicraft sector with the supply from China is minimal," said Rakesh Kumar, director general, Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts.