The Indian government on Tuesday put export restrictions on 26 pharma ingredients and medicines, including paracetamol, vitamin B1 and B12, amid the coronavirus outbreak in China.
With this, export of these active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and formulations requires licence from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), an arm of the commerce ministry.
Earlier, there were no restrictions on outbound shipments of these products. The country’s API imports stood at around $3.5 billion per year, and around 70 per cent, or $2.5 billion, come from China.
‘Export of specified APIs and formulations made from these APIs is hereby restricted with immediate effect and till further orders,’ the DGFT said in a notification.
API is raw material for pharmaceuticals. Although India is heavily import-dependent for APIs from China, it exports a limited quantity of pharma ingredients. India has exported APIs worth about $225 million last year.
Restrictions on the exports are important as there would be an increase in demand for these products in the country. The latest announcement assumes significance on account of concerns over coronavirus spreading to many countries.
Apart from paracetamol, vitamin B1, B6 and B12, other APIs and formulations over which the export restrictions have been imposed include tinidazole, metronidazole, acyclovir, progesterone, chloramphenicol, ornidazole, formulations made of chloramphenicol, clindamycin salts, neomycin, and paracetamol.
On Monday, India reported two new cases of the coronavirus, including one in the national capital. The outbreak has killed more than 3,000 people globally. In February, the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) asked the DGFT to issue orders restricting export of 12 APIs and formulations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
A high-level committee formed by the DoP under the chemicals and fertilisers ministry to monitor supply of raw materials for drugs from China had recommended the restrictions.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Miscellany