NEW DELHI: Drug makers are worried about quality of their products getting impacted amid persistent delay in clearance of consignments from China at various ports and airports in India.
“A few consignments that arrived in Gujarat on Monday after a delay of more than six days were found opened in unsterile conditions, adversely impacting the efficacy of the product,” a senior executive in the pharma industry said.
With customs holding back consignments of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), intermediaries and key starting material used in medicines, pharmaceutical companies are also skeptical of China stopping supplies to India and diverting them to other countries if the delay continues for very long.
“The trade brokers in China who coordinate for supplies and payments between companies have already put everything on hold for India because of the bilateral tension. If the problem continues for another two to three days, there is going to be a major shortage for at least small and medium sized companies in India,” another industry executive said.
In India, despite Pharmaceutical Export Council of India (Phamexcil) repeatedly approaching the government and seeking intervention to clear the consignments at the earliest, officials said custom has responded by saying that there are instructions for all custodians of cargo including port terminal and airport to hold all consignments which originated from China from June 22.
However, by Tuesday evening, some companies said things have started moving and consignments are likely to be cleared by next week, even as they maintained that it has been conveyed to them that customs officers will do 100% investigation and not a randomised check as is usually done.
“Supplies are opening up after we approached the finance ministry. Custom has started clearing consignments and we are hoping things will start looking up by tomorrow and in next 4-5 days, consignments of API and intermediates will be cleared on priority,” Pharmexcil chairman Dinesh Dua said.
Around 70% of India’s API imports are from China. While the government is now trying to incentivise the local industry to develop capacities to reduce dependence on imports of APIs, it will take time for the industry to develop such facilities and more importantly generate volumes to match the price at which China supplies these products.