Ficci: Some drugs may not last beyond February because of coronavirus crisis

The News

  • According to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), several commonly used medicines like paracetamol and ibuprofen could be found in short supplies after the month of February if the disruptions due to coronavirus don’t end soon.
  • Based on feedback various industries, FICCI has ascertained that along with medicines, smartphones and solar equipment production could also suffer if the coronavirus threat is not curtailed soon.


  • Coronavirus has resulted in over 1,500 lives in China and over 60,000 infected cases worldwide.
  • Several disruptions have been caused by this virus with people being advised to stay indoors and avoid the spread of the virus.
    • Note: China’s Hubei’s province is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak and also a major supplier of raw material or active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) used in medicine formulations.


Imports from China and its impact:

  • Pharmaceutical sector: India satisfies 70 per cent of its bulk drugs related intermediatary needs from China.
    • In certain segments, such as penicillins and their derivatives, China accounts for over 90% of India’s import of the ingredient.
    • Several commonly used medicines like paracetamol and ibuprofen could be found in short supplies after the month of February if the disruptions due to coronavirus don’t end soon.
    • There is also possibility of rise in the pharmaceutical products if the shutdown prolonges.
  • Telecom equipment and organic compounds: In several product segments such as telecom equipment and organic compounds, China’s share is around 70%.
  • Smartphones: China accounts for some 85% of the total value of parts and components used in smartphones in India (cells, display panels, camera modules and printed circuit boards).
    • India imports mobile phone components worth Rs 7,000-8,000 crore from China every month.
  • Automotive sector: China is one of India’s largest suppliers of automotive components.
    • Vehicle production in India may suffer contraction by 8.3% in 2020 in the wake of increasing risk of supply shortage due to the coronavirus outbreak in China.
    • The downside may be much higher for the electric vehicle segment in India.
  • Solar Industry: Bulk of solar cells, modules, inverters and robotic module cleaning systems for the solar energy projects are imported from China.
    • Note: The data is based on first-of-its-kind study based on feedback from the industry conducted by FICCI.


News Summary:

  • In order to deal with predicted shortage in medicine sector, an eight-member expert committee was constituted by the government to assess availability of medicines in the country.

Recommendations of the committee:

  • The committee has suggested imposing export restrictions on12 medicines (mainly antibiotics, vitamins and hormones).
  • The panel has urged the Centre to ask states to invoke provisions of the Essential Commodities Act and launch a strong vigil against hoarders and any kind of artificial shortage.

Note: The health ministry is working on a plan with measures to ensure there is no crisis in case if the lockdown in China continues for another fortnight, impacting supplies.


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