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India lifts ban on export of paracetamol

By Isabel Shaw

02 Jun 2020

The central Indian government has lifted its three-month ban on exports of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for paracetamol.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said export of the ingredients would be ‘free’ with immediate effect.

The export ban, made on 3 March in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, stated that 26 active pharmaceutical ingredients and drugs made from them would no longer be traded abroad.

This included paracetamol, several antibiotics, such as tinidazole and erythromycin, the hormone progesterone, and vitamin B12.

India is the world’s third largest producers and exporters of drugs, with Europe heavily reliant on supply from the country.

In fact, pharmaceutical companies in India source over two-thirds of their ingredients from factories in China, many of which had been shut down in March because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The ban led to a nationwide drug shortage within the pharmacy sector in the UK. The Pharmacist reported that major pharmacy wholesalers ran out of paracetamol in March leaving community pharmacies struggling to restock.

Rules on breaking down large packs of paracetamol into smaller packs were relaxed in light of supply shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Indian government partially lifted the export ban in April, and sent nearly nearly 3 million packets of paracetamol to the UK.

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