AHMEDABAD: After encountering teething problems initially, nearly 75% pharmaceutical units in Gujarat have now managed to become operational. With government support, these manufacturing plants are currently operating at a capacity of more than 70%, said government officials and industry experts.
“Gujarat has some 1,100 pharma units. About four weeks ago, only 300 to 350 units were operational,” said H G Koshia, commissioner, Gujarat FDCA.
Being essential items producers, the pharma industry is exempted from the lockdown. However, several pharmaceutical firms were not able to run their plants when the first lockdown was imposed. The pharma units were largely non-operational because of issues related to movement of raw materials and workforce.
“Central and state government reviewed the situation, identified the bottlenecks and speedily removed them to ensure steady supply of drugs, especially lifesaving drugs such as antibiotics, anti-diabetes and blood pressure pills,” Koshia added.
Pharma companies were supported not just to resume operations but also scale up production with all precautions in place. Passes were made available for ferrying their employees and they were helped in procuring raw materials.
“As a result, around 60% units became operational two weeks ago and nearly 75% units are currently functional across the state. These units are also operating at 75% of their plant capacity,” he added.
According to industry players, Gujarat has a lion’s share in India’s pharma output. If production is hampered in the state, it affects supplies of drugs in pan-India market.
“Overall, there has been a lot of improvement now. As many as 762 plants are currently working at the moment. When the first lockdown was imposed, pharma manufacturing units were operating at only 30% capacity,” said Viranchi Shah, national senior vice-president, Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA).
“The state government supported the pharmaceutical industry in resolving several problems like transportation, and helped the industry scale up production. The proactive steps were taken to ensure that medicine supply, especially lifesaving drugs, is not hampered,” Shah added.