After the World Health Organisation declared Coronavirus as a 'pandemic,' the Indian government has decided to fast-track the environmental clearance process for projects proposing production of bulk drugs in the country, to deal with the shortage of key drugs.
Realizing the shortage of key drugs, the Ministry of Environment and Forest office will give 'out-of-turn green clearances' to projects dealing with bulk drug and bulk drug intermediaries so that the projects can begin at the earliest. According to the memorandum issued by the Environment Ministry's office, the issue has been cleared and will be implemented with immediate effect.
The bulk drug is an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) that plays a key role in the manufacturing of formulation and branded drugs. Coronavirus has completely disrupted the bulk drug supply. India imports large the bulk drug in a large quantity for its pharmaceutical industry.
The government's decision was welcomed by the bulk drug manufacturers. The manufacturers, however, stated that the move has come too late as setting up bulk drug facilities will be a timely process even for companies in the queue seeking clearances.
The government's move to fast-track the environmental clearance process to facilitate the manufacturing of APIs in the country came after various Pharma industries warned the government that the coronavirus spread may seriously affect the pharma industry in India. The Pharma industries also stated that the pandemic may lead to shortages of certain key drugs that depend on China for the raw material.
The government has also set up a committee which will deal with the issue of drug shortages coming from trade restrictions due to Coronavirus spread. In its report, the committee has informed that the presently available stock of the APIs may come handy only for 2-3 months to manufacture formulations. The government has already put a halt on the export of certain medicines like antibiotics, to avoid shortage in India.
The Ministry of Health on Thursday has confirmed the total number of coronavirus cases to 73 in India. The states of Kerala, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have reported maximum cases across the country. Of total 73 cases, 56 are Indian nationals and the rest are foreigners, as per the Union Health Ministry data till 11 AM. A total of 10,57,506 have been screened in India so far.