A leading exporter said, there is enough stock of paracetamol in the country. At present, the US, which has become the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, needs paracetamol.
He further said India would lose its credibility as the “pharmacy of the world” if it adopts protectionist policies during such a crisis.
Amid growing pressure from countries like the US and easing supplies from China, India on Monday lifted the curbs on exports of 13 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and their formulations.
Sources say the ban on exports of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) claimed to be effective to treat coronavirus may also be lifted.
“Exports were banned given the shortage of raw material in the country that could have, in turn, led to a crisis in the home market, especially for key drugs like paracetamol.
"The APIs for these drugs primarily came from Hubei province. But now the supplies have eased,” said an official.
In the first week of March, India restricted the exports of 13 APIs and their formulations to ensure there was no shortage in the domestic market.
These included common medicines like paracetamol, vitamins, some anti-virals, hormones, and common antibiotics like tinidazole, metronidazole, etc.
Since exporting these items now needs the government’s approval, there has hardly been any export in March.
The process to get an NoC takes 30-45 days and hence exports have practically stopped.
India also imposed a ban on export of HCQ (API and its formulations) after the drug came into limelight for its curative properties in treating COVID-19 cases.
In the last week of March, the government had allowed exports on a ‘case-to-case’ basis on humanitarian grounds from special economic zones and export-oriented units.
However, on April 4, India imposed a blanket ban.
It was also around the same time when US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed the issue of HCQ.
In his daily news conference at the White House during the weekend, Trump said, “I called Prime Minister Modi... They make large amounts of hydroxychloroquine. India is giving it a serious consideration.”
A leading exporter said: “There is enough stock of paracetamol in the country. At present, the US, which has become the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, needs paracetamol.
"The US is worried that India’s stance can lead to drug shortages in that market, as we supply almost 25 per cent of the generic medicines sold in the US.”
The exporter said India would lose its credibility as the “pharmacy of the world” if it adopts protectionist policies during such a crisis.
Apart from the 13 APIs and their medicines, HCQ, too, is produced in India in large quantities.