Prices of drug ingredients used against Covid-19 increased

MUMBAI: The prices of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and chemicals used to manufacture Covid drugs have increased rapidly between three and 10 times since March 20, due to incteased in demand, black marketing, short supply and weakening of the economy.

The maximum rise in price has been seen in the case of API of hydroxychloroquine, which came into limelight after US President Trump touted it as a potential Covid-19 treatment, while prices of others, including azithromycin, ivermectin and vitamin D3 have doubled, in few days.

The API prices of hydroxychloroquine have touched around Rs 70,000 per kg, from around Rs 6,500 per kg (February), and Rs 7,500 per kg (March).

Ipca labs joint managing director AK Jain said “We have not sold any API recently. We need to service large government orders, both central government and state. There is no change in the domestic formulation prices in India. But the cost of producing API has more than doubled, with basic chemicals and raw materials from China going up by five to six times.”

The other drug used in combination with hydroxychloroquine for treating coronavirus, since February, prices have increased to 16,000 a kg with regard to API for azithromycin.

RK Baheti, chief financial officer of Vadodara-based Alembic said,“Prices of APIs have gone up by 80-100% due to a shortage in the market as well as logistics issues (from China). Though demand has gone up in the country, there is also a huge requirement from the US and Europe, where we are also supplying. There is no shortage in the country.”

Around 80% of API of azithromycin is imported from China per month, but now the same has been reduced as Beijing is exporting a bulk of it to Europe and the US, according to market experts.The Prices of another sought-after drug for Covid-19, paracetamol, are stable, while those of vitamin-D3 is up by nearly three times.

“The cost of importing raw materials and chemicals from China has gone up substantially with both sea and air shipments becoming expensive. There is also congestion at ports, while logistics is also a challenge,” Mahesh Doshi, president of Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association, said.

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