Vidya Venkat

“Issue lies in supply crunch from China, from where most raw materials are imported”

CHENNAI: It is that time of the year when most people have cough and running nose. But the most commonly prescribed pill for these, vitamin C, is hard to find in the market now.

Pharmacies and medical stores across the city have reported an acute supply shortage of the vitamin C tablets ‘Celin,’, ‘Suckcee,’ ‘Chewcee’ and ‘Limcee’ for the past one week. Customers, however, claimed that they could not get enough tablets for more than a month now.

A medical store officer at Government General Hospital said there was need for 1 lakh vitamin C tablets but they had only 10,000 tablets in supply.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association president for Tamil Nadu B. Sethuraman said that manufacturers of vitamin C supplements across India were compelled to suspend operations after the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) recently revised the ceiling price. “The drug price control order failed to reckon the hike in input costs. While the rise in the value of the U.S. dollar has added to the problem, the real issue lies in supply crunch from China, from where most raw materials are imported,” he said.

“Ahead of the Olympics, the chemical industry in China suspended manufacture of raw materials in view of the pollution problem. This had a spiralling effect on supply in the Indian market,” he explained.

Tamil Nadu Drugs Control Department in-charge K. Sundaraswamy told The Hindu that the issue had been brought to the notice of the Union government.

Sources in the NPPA said talks were on with the manufacturers.

Those depending on the supplement are facing a tough time.

Bodybuilder and gym instructor Murali Vijaykumar lamented that his hard-earned muscles were taking a beating as he could not supplement his workouts with vitamin C.

Preparing for upcoming championships, he hoped the crisis would end soon as whole foods, gooseberry (amla) and other citrous fruits would not have the same effect as supplements.

“Natural body builders need at least 1-1.5 grams of the vitamin spread over equal doses throughout the day to ensure that the stress hormone, cortisol, does not affect the muscles and health. It is impossible to eat 20 oranges a day for that.”

Trainer and national body builder Murtuza S. Rasheed said that the supplement was vital for cartilage health, not only for body builders but also sportsmen, and hence the crisis had to end soon.

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