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Coronavirus fallout: Imports issue solved, but Indian pharma now faces exports problem

E Kumar Sharma     March 13, 2020

As imports begin to fall in place for Indian pharma sector, there is a huge cloud of uncertainty on the exports front, especially to the markets in US and Europe. With travel restrictions between Europe and the US, Indian pharma companies are unsure of product offtake in these regions.

"We are seeing things getting back to normal in the inward supply chain leading upto drug manufacture. However, the situation has turned a bit uncertain on the onward sales of these products given that normal activity in major parts of Europe, US and in some emerging markets is getting disrupted in the light of more coronavirus cases emerging and the World Health Organisation calling it a pandemic," says Kedar Upadhye, global chief financial officer at Cipla.

He does not rule restrictions on the travel of medical representatives in local markets as well as expats working abroad. Other than wait and watch approach, most feel, companies need to focus on safety of employees, facilitate their safe return.

Industry insiders believe it's time for prudent management, which would typically include not extending credit, keeping cash handy and postponing new initiatives with constant eye on cost control amid unclear revenues prospects.

Meanwhile, the Ministry Of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued an official memorandum to the Central Pollution Control Board and other connected government entities, in order to ensure drug availability, that clearances should be granted expeditiously to projects related to active pharmaceutical ingredients and drug intermediates.

Some of the head honchos of Indian pharmaceutical companies Business Today spoke to confirmed that shipments from China had started and, in case of high value items, airlift has also been done.  

Concerns over the uncertainty in global market and the nature of impact that it could have on exports linger, beyond the response of Indian government and possibility of export curbs.  

Also read: Coronavirus fallout: China-controlled Penicillin G sees over 50% price rise

Also read: Coronavirus: Paracetamol prices rise by 40% amid outbreak of deadly virus

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