China's coronavirus pandemic is turning out to be a huge disruptor to India's $39-billion drug production by severely affecting the flow of imports of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and bulk drugs from the country, reports The Pharma Letter's local correspondent.
India imports 70% of its API requirements from China, which amounts to $2.4 billion. These imports are used to manufacture key medicines such as paracetamol, metformin, ofloxacin, metronidazole, ampicillin and amoxycillin.
While prices of paracetamol have doubled, that of nimesulide has tripled. Prices for azithromycin, used for bacterial infections, and montelukast, for the treatment of respiratory infections, have also shot up by about 30%.
Experts note the spread of the disease could further threaten Indian pharma's ingredient sourcing. Raw materials from China are used in making antibiotics, paracetamol, diabetes and cardiovascular drugs, among others.
Companies most affected
Abbott (NYSE: ABT), Sun Pharmaceutical (BSE: 524715), Lupin (BSE: 500257), Glenmark (BSE: 532296), Dr Reddy's (BSE: 5001240, Torrent (BSE: 500420) and Aurobindo Pharma (BSE: 524804) are hugely dependent on Chinese imports.
Supplies of fermentation-based ingredients used to make antibiotics and vitamins are set to be the most impacted in the event of a shutdown of operations in China continues, say experts, or if the infection spreads to major manufacturing hubs.
Though major hubs for bulk drug exports are located far from Capital Wuhan, the epicenter of China's coronavirus outbreak, around 40 units of basic chemicals, API and intermediates in Hubei supply products to India.
Other centers like Zhejiang and Jiangsu are also close to Wuhan.
Bulk drugs were among the top 10 imports from China between 2015 and 2019. Data from the Health Ministry shows some 354 drugs and drug ingredients were imported from China in 2017.
India imported $2.77 billion worth of bulk drugs in 2014-15, with 64% ($1.78 billion) coming from China. The figure has gradually moved up over the years and 2018-19 saw India importing $3.56 billion worth of bulk drugs, with China accounting for 68% of imports at $2.41 billion.
Source from thepharmaletter