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China shuttered, India curbs exports to stock key drug ingredients

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Tuesday restricted the export of key drug ingredients, such as paracetamol, Vitamin B12 and progesterone, in the wake of the ongoing shutdown in Hubei, the Chinese province at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the directorate’s notification, the export of 13 such active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and medicines made from them, have been restricted. This means that companies would need a no-objection certificate (NOC) to move them out of India.

“These products have come from Hubei, which is currently on lockdown. It may take time to restart the industry there, so this move was recommended in the meantime to preserve available stock of these APIs and formulations,” a senior government official told.

DGFT’s notification states: “Export of specified APIs and formulations made from these APIs under the ITC HS Codes (Indian Trade Clarification based on Harmonized System of Coding) mentioned against each is hereby restricted with immediate effect and till further orders.”

The restrictions will cover: Paracetamol; Erythromycin salts; Vitamin B1, B6 and B12; Progesterone; Tinidazole; Metronidazole; Chloramphenicol; Acyclovir; Neomycin; Clindamycin salts and Ornidazole.

The move comes two weeks after the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) deputy secretary MK Bharadwaj wrote to DGFT seeking such a restriction amid concerns of a disruption in India’s pharmaceutical supply chain due to the lockdown in Hubei from where the virus was first reported in December last year.

India is dependent on China for nearly 70 per cent of its APIs and almost completely dependent on it for fermentation-based APIs, which are used to make various vitamins and antibiotics.

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