Drug APIs from China to be cleared at Indian ports after pharma industry plea

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NEW DELHI :
The customs department will start clearing shipments of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) imported from China stuck at ports across India as the government relented after pleas by the pharmaceutical industry.

“Practically every pharmaceutical raw material is being cleared from the ports. There five key starting materials and 53 APIs which are 100% imported from China are among the raw materials that are stuck,” Dinesh Dua, chairman of Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil), told Mint, adding that the total value of shipments is around 200 crore.

“Yesterday evening, the airports started clearing it, but seaports and dry ports have still not started. Hopefully, they will start clearing it soon.”

Dua said that seaports and dry ports account for about 60-70% of all API shipments, and these will be cleared over the next one week.

The customs department’s move follows representations made by Pharmexcil with the ministries of commerce, chemicals and fertilisers and health and family welfare. Dua had written to these ministries on Saturday about shipments being held up at the ports.

Customs officials had held up shipments of APIs and other materials which originated from China at various ports of the country since 22 June. While the reasons for doing so were not clear, the holding up of shipments came amid a border dispute between China and India and the subsequent tension in the relationships.

The hold up was the second disruption in supply of APIs from China in about four months, with the last one being a severe supply crunch in March due to the coronavirus pandemic in China.

China supplies around two-thirds of India pharmaceutical companies’ API needs, with some fermentation-based APIs and vitamins being entirely imported from China.

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