India curbs exports of 13 key pharma ingredients

  • 04-Mar-2020
  • India curbs exports of 13 key pharma ingredients

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has restricted the exports of 13 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), including paracetamol, certain vitamins and antibiotics, and formulations made by them with immediate effect, as the Covid-19 epidemic in China is seen affecting their supply.

The trade watchdog has restricted the export of APIs and formulations made from them, meaning companies planning to export these products will have to secure a no-objection certificate from the government.

The 13 APIs and their formulations are paracetamol, tinidazole, metronidazole, acyclovir, vitamins B1, B6 and B12, progesterone, chloramphenicol, erythromycin and clindamycin salts, neomycin and ornidazole.

“Export of specified APIs and formulations made from these APIs under the ITC HS Codes mentioned against each is hereby restricted with immediate effect and till further orders," the DGFT order said.

ITC HS Code stands for India Harmonized Code System Code used in import-export operations.

Amid concerns over supply disruption of crucial raw materials, the department of pharmaceuticals (DoP) had last month written a letter to DGFT asking it to restrict the export of 12 drugs and their key ingredients.

In his letter, DoP deputy secretary M.K. Bhardwaj requested DGFT director general Amit Yadav to restrict export of antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, metronidazole, tinidazole, erythromycin and neomycin, as well as vitamins B1, B12 and B6. The department also asked for restrictions on export of the hormone progesterone. Mint had reviewed a copy of the letter.

The restrictions were initially suggested by a panel set up by the DoP and chaired by joint drug controller S. Eswara Reddy.

“The government and industry bodies had prepared a list of 58 APIs for which we are dependent on China. Out of these, export of the 13 APIs that have been restricted are manufactured primarily in the Hubei province in China which is the epicentre of the outbreak, and where there is a quarantine," a person who attended the meeting of the panel said.

China is a major supplier of APIs to the Indian pharmaceutical industry, accounting for as much as 90% of supplies in certain key antibiotics.

Since the beginning of December when the outbreak started in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, more than 92,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported globally. While mainland China alone accounts for over 80,000 cases, cases in South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran are also rising. Out of these, 3,118 people have died the world over, while the majority are from mainland China, data on Johns Hopkins University’s portal showed.

In India, while three earlier patients in Kerala had recovered, two more cases were confirmed on Monday, one each in Delhi and Hyderabad. While the patient from Delhi had travelled from Italy last week, the one from Telangana had travelled to Dubai. One case of infected nationals from Italy was also reported on Tuesday.


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