Shortages and potential price increases of generic drugs from India loom if the coronavirus outbreak disrupts suppliers of pharmaceutical ingredients in China past April, according to industry experts.
An important supplier of generic drugs to the world, Indian companies procure almost 70% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for their medicines from China.
Optimism that the worst of the outbreak centered in China’s Hubei province and its capital Wuhan would be over by April took a major hit late on Wednesday. Chinese health officials, using a broader method of confirming coronavirus cases, said they shot up by nearly 15,000 in Hubei with total deaths in China nearing 1,400.
The outbreak and severe travel restrictions aimed at containing its spread has taken a toll on the world’s second largest economy and disrupted international businesses dependent on Chinese supplies.
Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd said it has sufficient inventory of API and raw materials for the short term and has not seen any major disruption in supplies at the moment.
An extended outbreak that limits the volume of active ingredients and drugs available for export from China could lead to drug shortages and price increases, particularly in the United States – where prices are subject to market forces – according to rating agency Moody’s.
“Companies are continuously monitoring the situation and are working proactively to prevent and mitigate potential shortages,” Holly Campbell, spokeswoman for pharmaceutical industry trade group Pharma, said by email.
Sudarshan Jain, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) trade group, said there are no API shortages at the moment because drug makers had stocked up on inventory ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in China, which was later extended to contain the virus.