Lockdown hits output of pharma firms

Majority of units utilising only 15-20% of installed capacity

Lockdown hits output  of pharma firms

Vijay C Roy/Ambika Sharma

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh/Solan, March 31

It’s a double whammy for pharmaceutical companies. On the one hand, exports have come to a halt with consignments lying at ports due to lockdown, on the other hand, manufacturing of drugs has also taken a massive hit with most of the units utilising 15-20% of their installed capacity in the absence of manpower. The pharmaceutical companies were allowed to operate during the lockdown period.

According to the industry, the lockdown has disrupted the supply chain as law enforcement agencies have restricted the movement of goods and workers.

The workers are unable to reach their workplaces due to the ban on public transportation. Moreover, it’s very difficult for the MSMEs to arrange transportation for their staff. Sources said ancillary goods required for the production of medicines are not available due to the lockdown. Among the worst hit are pharma units based in Baddi, Barotiwala and Nalagarh area. According to the industry, pharma companies were also facing shortage of manpower as a large chunk of the workforce commute daily from the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

“In Mumbai and its neighbouring areas, the situation is better as the pharmaceutical firms based there are utilising around 25-30% of their installed capacity. As far as Baddi-Barotiwala and Nalagarh (BBN) is concerned, it is not more than 20%,” said Dr Dinesh Dua, chairman, Pharmexcil, and chairman, Entrepreneurship & Startups, CII North India.

There are around 450 pharma and cosmetic manufacturing units in the BBN area. Out of this, only 200 units are operational at present. Another 25 pharma firms in Parwanoo have also commenced their operations, according to data available with the Drug Control Administration (DCA).

Several MNCs such as Dr Reddy’s, Abbott, Cadila, Sun Pharma, Torrent, Alkem, Hindustan Unilever are operating though availability of staff is low.

Information available with the DCA at Baddi revealed that Dr Reddy’s Lab was operating with a staff of only 80 people as against the strength of 700, as a majority of the employees were unable to come from Pinjore in Haryana. Some companies are planning to resume work from tomorrow as a series of measures have been taken by the state government to ease the problems of pharma companies.

A majority of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) were, however, unable to resume production as they had closed their operations initially and now their staff was unable to enter Himachal after the lockdown. “With the borders of Baddi industrial area having been sealed, we are unable to report for work despite our managements directing us to do so,” said Rakesh Kumar working with a company based in Baddi.

State Drug Controller Navneet Marwaha said measures such as providing speedy permissions to transport the staff within the BBN area and smooth movement of trucks carrying raw materials and finished goods were being accorded by the Baddi police in coordination with the DCA.

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