Due to the increase in Covid cases and people getting jabs, the pharma sector is facing a shortage of the painkiller, paracetamol.
Haryana: The local brand price for paracetamol is costing the same as that of a brand like Cipla, due to the shortage of the drug in the market. Wholesalers and retailers are certain that the price will come to normal, as the number of Covid cases has started falling. The maximum retail price (MRP) of 10 paracetamol tablets is Rs. 9.97.
The pharmaceutical industry is seeing a shortage of at least 80 percent of this drug.“Before the shortage, we used to buy this drug from Cipla only. However, now the situation has changed, and we are not hesitating to buy the drug of any local brand,” said Vaibhav, a wholesaler in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh, while explaining the change in drug price change in the price of the drug after the shortage.
“A local brand used to cost half of the MRP of a Cipla. But now these local brands companies have increased the price by Rs. 2 after which the paramount price of the drug reaches the same price as Cipla after taxes,” said Vaibhav.
He further said that they see a shortage due to no availability of raw materials to the companies. The drug manufacturing companies do not have the stock (paracetamol). “We are skeptical of the reason for the shortage in the availability of the drug; either there is black marketing going on, or the government has bought the drug. But we don’t know the reason for sure,” Vaibhav said.
“Can you imagine, this shortage is in Baddi?” asked Vaibhav. Baddi, is Asia’s largest Pharmaceutical hub and is home to some of the largest pharmaceutical companies, including Cipla and Dr., “Wholesalers, and retailers from Uttar Pradesh are sending us drug orders as there is a shortage in the market everywhere,” he added.
The consumption of the drug has increased in the past few months. The reasons, Vaibhav explained, are two for the shortage. “One of the two reasons is that a Covid positive person needs this drug as a painkiller. The other reason is that a person who got vaccinated will need this drug to get relief from the after-effects like body ache or fever,” he added.
Manik, a 52-year-old man (name changed), took the vaccine on April 14, 2021, and was given two tablets of paracetamol. However, he had to take an extra tablet as he suffered severe body ache after the vaccination. He consumed a total of three tablets because he suffered the after-effects of the vaccine. People like Manik have been adding to the paracetamol demand.
The central government started the vaccination drive in the month of January this year. As of today, 19.1 crore people got one dose of the vaccination, and 4.16 crore people are fully vaccinated in the country. If every person who is vaccinated is given two tablets, it would account for 46.52 crores of paracetamol tablets consumed.
“We have an ample number of tablets,” said Bimla, an Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker, who is looking after the vaccination drive in Ismailabad-2 primary health center (PHC). When they see their stock decreasing, they contact the government hospital in the city and get the medicine.
A total of 159 people got vaccinated on May 23, 2021, above the age of 45 years, and everyone was given two tablets of paracetamol. “We have the stock all the time with us,” she added.
Chandrakant Lahariya, a public health expert said that the reason for the shortage could be an improper supply of medicine. There is a possibility that some states might be stocking up on this drug. But, if drugs from local brands are available in the market, people can buy them. “The government, however, should track the supply chain of the medicine,” he suggested.