Medication, mfg cos device operate at 50% of its capacity

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Mumbai: The prospects for a constant of medicines and devices have not yet improved. Drug manufacturing plants and medical device units continue to face disruptions due to a disrupted supply chain for key raw materials and packaging, as well as employee displacement issues due to the national shutdown. Average capacity utilization is at a low 40-50%.

With units still limping to normal across the country and inventory levels running low, there may be a shortage before certain essential drugs and devices, the companies say. A GSK executive told TOI that while certain bottlenecks have been alleviated, problems remain with suppliers and contract manufacturing units, which continue to face challenges related to the movement of employees in Daman.

The executive added that the movement of truckers across interstate borders remains problematic, but the Nashik-based plant does not have any problems with workers, as they are locally based. “The plant is currently operating at full capacity. However, there are challenges with the supply chain and particularly ensuring that the material flows to the factory without interruption. Part of our production could be hampered as suppliers are not providing packaging, he said.

Medical device companies, which import key components or need to transport them through India, still face delays with shipments (air and sea freight), and with local couriers and carriers. “Companies are returning to limited capacity in some areas, with 30-40% of pre-closing production levels and 20-30% for dispatch levels. Units in the containment and sealed areas are effectively closed as movement of workers and vehicles stops. Logistics is slowly improving, ”said Rajiv Nath, forum coordinator for AiMeD, an industry association of national companies. Chennai-based Trivitron Healthcare and others have reported issues related to the movement of key components, transportation of finished products, and delays in import shipments of Covid test kits. Units that manufacture key raw materials and packaging material still face a blockage. Therefore, their supplies are affected. We are managing with inventory, which will last only a couple of weeks, said a pharmaceutical company based in Mumbai.

To make matters worse, prices for Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) have increased with delays in imports, although shipments from certain areas in China have resumed. “Production levels vary and, with the exception of some plants where attendance was low due to restrictions on movement of interstate people, our operations have not been much affected. We thank government authorities for their continued support to the pharmaceutical industry. Things are improving and we hope to get more support from transportation providers and auxiliary pharmaceutical units. Employee health and safety remain our top priority, said a spokesperson for Mumbai, which has plants in more than 20 different locations.

However, according to data from the pharmaceutical research firm Aiocd-Awacs, there is adequate stock at the distributor level for all therapies, with the lowest in antidiabetics (four weeks) and the highest in dermatology (eight weeks). Overall, there is a 52-day inventory for antimalarials such as hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), despite accelerated sales. As production and transportation increase, stock levels are expected to rise and stabilize, avoiding any shortages of essential drugs. In general, there are stocks of almost three months.