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Shanghai lockdown can disrupt pharma supplies to India

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SHANGHAI : The Indian pharmaceutical industry is bracing for disruptions in supplies amid a lockdown in Shanghai to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.There may be delays in receiving active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and intermediates as the two main ports of Shanghai and Shenzhen halt cargo operations, The Economic Times reported.

The Chinese government announced the biggest city-wide lockdown in Shanghai since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago. The city will be shut in two stages over a period of nine days while authorities carry out intensive testing. China’s financial hub, which is home to 26 million people, is on its third day of lockdown .

On March 29, Shanghai recorded 5,656 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and 326 symptomatic cases against 4,381 new asymptomatic cases and 96 new cases with symptoms a day earlier, Reuters reported.

According to industry experts, the lockdown in Shanghai, which houses the world’s largest container shipping port, will delay shipments in the days to come.“If the shipments remain on hold, cascading effects on the supply chain will be seen,” RC Juneja, Executive Chairman of Mankind Pharma, told .

Prices of drugs and packaging costs are already on the rise, Juneja added.India is currently the world’s third-largest drug producer by volume and houses domestic companies like Sun Pharmaceuticals, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Mankind, Lupin, Glenmark, Torrent, Aurobindo Pharma and Abbott. These drug companies import 70 percent of raw materials or intermediates from China, which is used to make major antibiotics, paracetamol, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular drugs. Intermediates are chemical compounds that help in the production of APIs.

“About 90 percent of India’s requirement of antibiotics is fulfilled by China,” an expert from a pharma advocacy group told adding that the overall industry will be impacted if the lockdown continues.Of the total raw material imported from China, 20-30 percent arrives by cargo flights, while 70 percent comes by ship as the air route is more expensive. Air freight charges are$ 5-10 higher per kilo than cargo ships, Dinesh Dua, Former Chairman of the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council, told . At present, the industry is not facing any shortage as companies maintain extra inventory, the report said.

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