The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has triggered an export ban on a number of pharmaceutical products including antibiotics and vitamins amidst fears of disruptions to the supply chain.
The restrictions shall apply “with immediate effect and till further orders,” read a notification from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, an agency of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The 26 products affected by the export ban include the APIs acyclovir; chloramphenicol; clindamycin salts; erythromycin salts; metronidazole; neomycin; ornidazole; paracetamol; progesterone; tinidazole; and vitamins B1, B6, and B12 and formulations made from them. The restrictions cover ten percent of all exports.
“Irrespective of the ban, some of these molecules may face shortages for the next couple of [months],” commented Dinesh Dua, chairman of the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India, a body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, quoted in Reuters. “If coronavirus is not contained, then in that case there could be acute shortages.”
The COVID-19 outbreak has affected the pharmaceutical industry in India, with cost increases for commonly-used products such as paracetamol. Disruption to the sector was warned of by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Multiple industries have been hit by the outbreak, including chemicals, electronics, and textiles. Bans on essential medicine exports have been mulled over by the Government since the COVID-19 outbreak.
The outbreak originated in Wuhan, the capital city of China’s Wuhan province. It has since spread globally to numerous countries and every continent except Antarctica. India has been affected by the virus and saw fresh cases reported earlier this week. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed for calm. “There is no need to panic,” he said earlier this week. “We need to work together, take small yet important measures to ensure self-protection.”