NEW DELHI :
The distribution of essential medical products such as hand sanitizers, gloves and blood analyzers have been affected by the lockdown, even as India tries to ramp up medical facilities to contain the covid-19 pandemic, industry insiders said.

The roadblocks are resulting in delays of several days and weeks to some of the worst-affected areas of the covid outbreak. “Maybe it (raw material) will last a week or 10 days, but if we are unable to clear the inventory, the factories will be filled with finished product in four-five days and we will have to shut down production,” said Manish Sabharwal, proprietor of Dr Sabharwal Wound Care, which has a unit for manufacturing hand sanitizers and bandages in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh.

The situation has been exacerbated by the country being under lockdown since 25 March.

The pandemic has also hit Kamal Ratra, the owner of RFB Latex Ltd, a glove manufacturer. “Our packaging supplier was in Faridabad. As as result of this lockdown, we had to look for a supplier in Noida, where our factory is. This is a problem with local authorities,” he said.

Lack of manpower and obstruction to the movement of goods are causing problems, Rajiv Nath, the forum coordinator of the Association of Indian Medical Device Industry, told the department of pharmaceuticals (DoP).

The problems lie with state governments and local authorities, while central government bodies, including DoP, the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority and the department for promotion of industry and internal trade, have been responsive, according to Nath and other industry officials. DoP said last week that it would follow up on it.

“Around 350 people work in our factory, but the government has given us permission for only 150,” Ratra said. “The government is asking us for double the number of products because of the scarcity, but is allowing us less than half the manpower.”

Ratra said the duty structure on gloves disincentivized the use of India-made products. The government has removed customs duty on gloves imported from Thailand and Malaysia, which makes products made in India financially unviable, he added.

The other issue rests with the global lockdown, which has resulted in choking key raw materials supply.

“We import high- precision optical and electronic components from Japan, Germany and the US, from where supplies have been hit as there are no regular flights that normally bring cargo,” said Suresh Vazirani, chairman and MD of Transasia Bio-Medicals, which manufactures blood analyzers.



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