Indian pharma frets as China airline uncertainty hits supply
India’s pharmaceuticals industry is concerned that the disruption to Chinese carrier Sichuan Airlines’ cargo services to the country may seriously hit the imports of key raw materials and has appealed to the Indian envoy to help find a solution.
“The decision of Chinese state-owned Sichuan Airlines suspending its cargo services to India for 15 days is worrisome,” Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) director general Ravi Udaya Bhaskar said, urging the Indian embassy in Beijing to intervene. Notwithstanding reports that the airline was mulling a new plan to resume its cargo flights to the region, an industry official said the carrier’s services to India remained suspended for a few days now. Sichuan operated to 6 Indian cities and other industries too depend on its services.
In a letter to the Ambassador Vikram Misri, Mr. Bhaskar said there was a real risk of disruption to “frantic efforts” by the industry to import medical supplies, including oxygen concentrators, key starting materials (KSMs) and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) at a time when the country was battling COVID.
Industry fears this could lead to shortages of essential medicines as well as hit exports. The DG said 60-70% of drug intermediates, KSM and API requirements are sourced from China. About 45-50% of all APIs imported feature in the National List of Essential Medicines. Though the Product Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for API manufacturing has been rolled out by the government of India, it is “going to take some time to reduce our dependence on import of KSMs,” Mr. Bhaskar said. The development also comes at a time when the industry is grappling with increased freight cost and shortage of containers.
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