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Paracetamol prices spike amidst COVID-19 outbreak

22498149 - the cure for fever and pain in tablets paracetamol. paracetamol prices concept.
Image credit: Petr Podroužek / 123rf

The COVID-19 outbreak that originated China and has since mushroomed to several countries worldwide – including India – has had a knock-on effect on multiple industries including the pharmaceutical industry. This ripple effect has manifested in a spike in paracetamol prices. 

At the time of writing, COVID-19 has infected in excess of 73,000 and resulted in almost 2,000 deaths worldwide – the majority of them in mainland China. Three cases have been reported in India, all in the state of Kerala. Fortunately, all three confirmed COVID-19 patients in the state have recovered. 

Paracetamol prices are among the costs of pharmaceutical products to have seen a jump, with a forty percent increase being reported according to Bloomberg. Other pharmaceutical products have seen a price increase, such as the antibiotic azithromycin used in the treatment of bacterial infections, which has seen a cost increase of seventy percent. 

Last week, The Print reported that active pharmaceutical ingredients utilised in the production of a number of antibiotics is on the cards. Cost increases of thirteen to eighteen percent could be seen for active pharmaceutical ingredients used in the manufacturing of amikacin, amoxicillin, dexamethasone sodium, and doxycycline, as well as azithromycin. 

Further disturbances to the pharmaceutical sector are anticipated in India according to Pankaj R. Patel, chairman of the pharmaceutical company Zydus Cadila, cited in the Bloomberg report. He predicted that, should supply chains not see a return to normalcy in the first week of March, drug formulations could potentially be in short supply come April. 

The pharmaceutical industry is not the only sector in India to have taken a hit as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. “The outbreak of the virus in China has hit India’s manufacturing and exports of medicines, electronic, textile and chemicals as China is the biggest source of intermediate goods, worth $30 billion a year, according to a presentation by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII),” Reuters reports. 

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) earlier warned of the potential impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on India’s pharmaceutical industry, while also anticipating a likely cost increase as is already being seen in the case of azithromycin and paracetamol prices. To counteract disruptions in the pharmaceutical industry supply chain and the potential for ensuing shortages of drugs, the Government is considering imposing a ban on twelve essential medicines to ensure their availability.

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