Today's Paper

Scarcity of drugs, devices imminent, govt. warned

Ensure resumption of units, urges Dept. of Pharmaceuticals

A countrywide shortage of medicines and medical devices is likely in the coming weeks, the Department of Pharmaceuticals has warned the Home Ministry, urging it to take immediate steps to help drug makers resume production under the current lockdown.

Drug and medical device makers are functioning “…on an average, at only 20%-30% capacity during the lockdown,” as per feedback from various industry formations, Department of Pharmaceuticals Secretary P.D. Vaghela pointed out in an April 9 communique to Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, which has been reviewed by The Hindu.

Export demand

“If the production does not reach the pre-lockdown level soon, it could lead to shortages of medicines and medical devices in the coming weeks,” the letter said.

Underlining that half of India’s output of pharmaceuticals is exported as global markets offer better prices, the Department of Pharmaceuticals stressed that this could lead to disproportionate shortages in the domestic market, calling for suitable measures to be taken “in the right earnest” to prevent this “avoidable” situation.

Production units engaged in making essential commodities, including medicines, vaccines, masks and their ancillaries had been exempted from the restrictions imposed as per the three-week national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24.

Though several States had already imposed restrictions on mobility and production by then, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister had urged State governments to ensure such production work continues, at a review meeting on March 22.

Since then, repeated missives from the Home Secretary to the State governments to ensure that the production and movement of essential goods is not hampered hasn’t changed things on the ground, prompting the Department of Pharmaceuticals to raise the issue afresh.

Recommended for you