WASHINGTON – Trump administration officials are calling on India to lift restrictions to give the US access to the pharmaceutical ingredients needed to manufacture a range of medicines, and fear a possible shortage of US medicines caused by the outbreak of the US Corona virus was causing messages.
The two governments are holding talks to ease the newly imposed restrictions on drug exports from India that Delhi has introduced to ensure that the country has the medicines needed to fight the pandemic within its borders.
As the corona virus may disrupt the global drug supply chain, India earlier this month restricted the export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and the drugs made from them, including paracetamol – a common pain reliever. India is the world’s leading supplier of generics and an important source of active pharmaceutical ingredients or active ingredients that are used to manufacture a range of medicines.
Apart from legal export restrictions, India is in a 21-day lock-up period to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This has hindered the production and shipping of medicines and other goods. As a result, Trump administration officials are also trying to figure out what drugs are available in Indian companies’ inventories, said a congressional assistant who was informed of the discussions.
“What can you buy? This is something the government is trying to work through with the Indians, “the adjutant, who was not authorized to speak on the file, told NBC News.
When the United States requested India to go to India, a State Department spokesman said, “We work together to ensure that critical drug, health technology, and personal protection manufacturing and supply chains remain open even when much of our country is shut down reduce the risk of transmission. “
The Indian embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.
Healthcare analysts say export restrictions from India would be possible reason The lack of vital medicines in the US as hospitals is preparing for an influx of coronavirus patients. American health workers are particularly concerned about a possible lack of antimalarials, albuterol or inhalers, and sedatives such as fentanyl, which are used in patients with ventilators.
From the 1990s, US companies increasingly relied on imports of pharmaceutical products from India and China due to cheaper manufacturing costs and less stringent regulations.
The corona virus forced some Chinese drug factories to close, but production has resumed since then. The closures affected the Indian generics industry, which relies heavily on raw materials from China for antibiotics and other medicines.
The managing director of the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, Vas Narasimhan, informed CNBC on Friday that his company was monitoring the global supply network and had not seen any major problems so far.
“We are following it very closely. We are aware of the situation in India and China and in other parts of the world where we source many of our active pharmaceutical ingredients. ” Narasimhan said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe”.
“So far, however, we have not found any major disruptions. I hope countries around the world maintain open borders because our supply chains are very closely linked. “
Indian drugmakers appear to be well positioned to meet demand in both India and the U.S. market, said Anup Malani, professor at the University of Chicago Law School and Medical School.
However, the quarantine requirements for cargo ship crews and health inspection measures taken by customs officials around the world will slow down drug transportation and increase transportation costs, he said.
“The bottom line is that the time it takes to ship quarantined products will increase,” said Malani.
India said on Wednesday that it had banned the export of hydroxychloroquine and malaria drug formulations and the export of the active ingredient to the drug. Researchers are investigating whether the drug could help patients with COVID-19.
International demand for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a similar drug that causes more side effects, has increased after small-scale tests have shown that the drugs are potentially promising against COVID-19.
President Donald Trump has also promoted malaria medication as a “game changer,” but so far there is no firm scientific evidence that the drug is effective against the coronavirus. Major clinical trials are planned in New York and by the World Health Organization.
Novartis’ Narasimhan said that if clinical trials ultimately show that hydroxychloroquine is effective, the company would make plans to produce it in multiple locations around the world.