FDA Says Pandemic Hasn’t Hit China’s Drug Exports

08.04.2020 -

In early March, the Indian government asserted that the coronavirus epidemic in China was affecting its supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), on which it relies for 70% of the generic drugs it makes. This could affect global supply chains, it warned.

As world’s leading exporter of generics, India said Chinese restrictions were hampering its production of acetaminophen, the base ingredient for the analgesic paracetamol, as many production facilities had shut down or cut output.

A month later, Stephen Hahn, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, now says there are no signs that the coronavirus pandemic has hurt China’s ability to supply active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).

But while the FDA hasn't seen a shortage of Chinese-sourced APIs sourced from it is "closely monitoring the situation," Hahn said on US television.

The FDA commissioner said also that China's API tap is still running, despite “escalating rhetoric” between the Chinese and US governments. However, he expects the Trump administration's push to develop "advanced" manufacturing stateside to help drive greater redundancy in the supply chain.

India reportedly has now lifted its export bans for 13 APIs and finished drugs. These include vitamins, antivirals and some common antibiotics; curbs on hydroxychloroquine are also said to be removed, as demand grows for the drug as an experimental coronavirus treatment.

Despite the easing, Johnson & Johnson (J&J ) has reported what it said is a temporary scarcity of its Tylenol  brand acetaminophen-based analgesic as heightened demand for the over-the-counter drug has strained supply.

With the shortage limited to specific regions, J&J says it is speeding up production to meet the higher demand and is working with US retailers to "encourage" purchasing limits as it tries to keep supplies running to consumers and hospitals.