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Laxmi Yadav, Mumbai October 13 , 2021
Hit by steep rise in prices of raw materials including active pharmaceutical ingredients, excipients, solvents and packaging materials, the Himachal Drug Manufacturers Association (HDMA) has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to form a task force to streamline the prices of pharmaceutical raw and packaging materials.  

MSME formulation units which are now struggling for survival in the current pandemic era have been worst hit by 25 per cent to 300 per cent rise in prices of APIs, excipients, solvents and packaging materials including aluminum, PVC, glass vials, mono carton, corrugated packing, said Himachal Drug Manufacturers Association president Dr Rajesh Gupta.

Himachal Pradesh has around 600 pharmaceutical units consisting of 80 per cent of MSMEs and 20 per cent large units.

India meets most of its API needs through imports from China. The increase in raw material costs in the wake of the Chinese power crisis will further add to the woes of the drug industry, especially MSMEs.

Prices of APIs such as paracetamol have gone upto Rs. 840 to Rs. 900/1,000 per kg whereas its pre Covid price was Rs. 300 per kg. Prices of excipients and solvents such as glycerin, propylene glycol, PVPK 30, isopropyl alcohol have also skyrocketed. Prices of packaging materials such as aluminium, printed, alu- alu foils have increased more than 30 per cent over the last three months and expected to cross 50 per cent in coming days, said Dr Gupta.
 
Similarly, prices of mono cartons and corrugated packing have risen by 25 per cent to 40 per cent and continue to go up while prices of PVC used for blistering of tablets and oral liquid PET bottles have witnessed a 25 per cent-30 per cent rise and trend still upwards. High prices of vials, ampoules, flip off seal, butyl seal parts have greatly affected the injectable products, he informed.
 
Besides this, freight rates of containers for import and export have zoomed up by 6 to 9 times compared to pre Covid-era due to shortage of containers amid pandemic.
 
On the other hand, hike in the prices of petrol, diesel and CNG has led to 10-20 per cent increase in logistics cost.

Last year Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had taken up the price rise issue with the Prime Minister’s Office following a representation from the state pharma industry. Acting on the PMO’s instruction, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) had sought extensive data pertaining to price rise from state drug units. Despite submission of extensive data by the state drug units last year, hardly any preventive measures have been taken in this regard, he added.
 
The steep rise in prices of raw materials and packaging materials needs three times capital infusion which is impossible for MSMEs. If prices are not tamed, the production of several drugs would be stopped, he stated.
 
The task force having representation from various ministries including ministry of health and family welfare, ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, ministry of commerce and NITI Aayog would protect pharma MSME units and help avoid any shortfall of medicines in the country.
 
The task force would keep a watch on raw material import, its impact, bulk drug production in the country and their prices and devise a mechanism to check price rise so as to avoid the present situation, Dr Gupta stated.

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