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Global drug market’s production line threatened by coronavirus

Published on 14/02/20 at 12:12pm

The global drug market is facing issues over production due to the coronavirus ravaging the supply line from China.

In the United States, the White House Trade Advisor, Peter Navarro, has called on the country to reduced pharmaceutical imports from China.

In efforts to contain the virus, China has halted work in many factories including ones that manufacture products for the pharmaceutical industry. The country is also focusing its drug supplies on treating the outbreak rather than importing them abroad.

Navarro feels the US needs to reexamine its reliance on China for medical equipment, supplies and drugs as events like the outbreak disrupts the global supply chain and directly hurts Americans. Navarro said: “This is a wake-up for an issue that has been latent for many years but is critical to U.S. economic and national security. If we have learned anything from the coronavirus and swine flu H1N1 epidemic of 2009, it is that we cannot necessarily depend on other countries, even close allies, to supply us with needed items, from face masks to vaccines.

“What we need to do is think about how we can get our pharmaceutical production back onshore and cheap.”

China is the world’s largest producer of ingredients used to make drugs, and the US is one of their biggest clients. However, it’s not the only country or region worried about the coronavirus causing a drug shortage. 6% of the European Union’s medicinal and pharmaceutical imports came from China in 2018, while they also get key ingredients for painkillers and antibiotics from China.

French Minister for Solidarity and Health, Agnes Buzyn, warned of “breaks in supply chains”, while Finland’s Minister of Family Affairs and Social services, Krista Kiuru, also commented saying it had become a broader is situation across Europe: “Medical shortages are a common phenomenon in Europe these days, even without unforeseen situations like this epidemic.”

Certain countries like Luxembourg are at a particular risk due to not having their own pharmaceutical industry meaning they rely on drug imports.

India is another large region threatened by the coronavirus. India also imports drugs and most of its drug ingredients from China, with 70% of its ingredients being secured from its neighbors.

Currently, India’s generic drugmakers say they have enough supplies to cover their operations. The coronavirus outbreak is likely to last beyond April, meaning it will certainly impact drug prices in India and around the world.

Conor Kavanagh

 

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