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Coronavirus: Govt plans ban on 12 essential medicines to prevent shortage

BusinessToday.In     February 17, 2020

Government could soon ban around 12 essential medicines- mainly antibiotics, vitamins and hormones. This measure is being taken to ensure that there is no shortage of essential drugs in wake of the coronavirus outbreak  in Hubei province in China. The government is mulling the ban as the Chinese government continues to impose a lockdown in Hubei as it is the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic.

Hubei in China is a major supplier of the raw material- active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) used in several medical formulations. In order to decide a course of action, the government is likely to consult an 8-member panel.

According to a Times of India report, this panel is most likely to suggest the government to invoke the Essential Commodities Act and ensure that there isn't any hoarding done to create artificial shortage of API. The panel said in its report that the states need to ensure that the traders don't exploit this situation and increase the prices of either API or medicine formulations.

The panel also reportedly suggested a ban on drugs such as chloramphenicol, neomycin, metronidazole, azithromycin, vitamins B1, B2 and B6 and hormones such as progesterone, which are essential during pregnancy and menstruation. A temporary export ban on these drugs is recommended as they reportedly depend on the supplies from Hubei.

India gets around 80-85 per cent of APIs used for making medical formulations from China. Indian pharma majors such as Lupin, Sun Pharma and Dr. Reddy's do manufacture APIs but it is for captive use or used by pharmaceutical companies for in-house production of finished dosage forms.

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