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Coronavirus: 'No shortage of medicines, prices won't increase'

Coronavirus update: Though the inventory level is down by eight days, there are sufficient stocks for more than a month for every therapeutic category

twitter-logoJoe C Mathew | April 1, 2020 | Updated 13:52 IST
Coronavirus: 'No shortage of medicines, prices won't increase'
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Indian pharmaceutical industry, which grew 12 percent in February on the back of healthy sales growth in the respiratory (17.9%), anti-infective (14.1%) and cardiac (13.3%) therapy segments  seems to be well geared to manage the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection crisis.

The inventory level of the industry is marginally down, but warrants no crisis at the moment. Market intelligence entity AIOCD Pharmasofttech AWACS Pvt. Ltd points out that at the industry level, inventories in February went down by just two days as compared to January. Though the inventory level is down by eight days, as compared to the same period the previous year, there are sufficient stocks for more than a month for every therapeutic category.

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The agency's monthly Tru Stock data says the anti-infectives had 45 days inventory in the trade channels in February. Even for anti-diabetic medicines, there are enough stocks for the next 34 days, AWACS data shows.

"As far as supply is concerned, we are monitoring the situation closely. At the moment we have two and a half months to three months of inventory of APIs (raw materials. If you are talking about formulation (stocks) and (trade) channel supplies, we are covered till May end or June. We have assured the government that there will be no shortage of supply of medicines", Sudarshan Jain secretary general, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) says.

The industry association also ruled out the possibility of large scale price increase at the consumer level. "The prices of finished products cannot increase in the domestic market as we are governed by the price control order. Even if the input costs go up, we cannot pass it on to the customer", Sudarshan said.

The industry also said the export restrictions imposed by the government is not impacting pharmaceutical exports in a big way. Sudarshan said the industry is growing at the same pace, without any COVID-19 led spurt or slowdown.

"There were some issues of hoarding of masks and some other products, but the government is taking measures to ensure that is not happening. Similarly, the prices went up for some products which are dependent on China for raw materials. It is slowly coming under control, though not fully under control, but from a patients' point of view, it does not make any difference", Sudarshan said.

He added that the Chinese raw material supplies have resumed in a limited way. "The factories have started working, but there is still the logistics challenge, to get the product from the factory to the port or the airports. We have started getting the supplies but it is not coming at the full pace", he said.

IPA member companies account for 57 percent of domestic sales and 80 percent of export of pharmaceuticals from India.

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