The rapid spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is projected to continue through the third quarter of 2020 or longer and have a mixed impact on the pharmaceuticals industry.
During the pandemic, individuals will continue to take prescription and over-the-counter medicines to treat their various health problems and needs. In fact, medication consumption will likely rise, both because of patients taking medications to treat the symptoms of COVID-19 and because the virus imposes pressures on the primary healthcare system and inhibits the access to hospitals and physicians for elective procedures.
However, the supply side faces its own challenges.
- On March 3, India issued restrictions on the export of 26 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and the medicines and vitamins made from them, certain antibiotics, the hormone progesterone, and vitamins B12, B1 and B6. This was due to reduced stockpiles of key ingredients sourced from China and the inability to get more. The US and Europe rely on supplies from India.
- By March 13, suppliers noted that supplies were returning, as import shipments have resumed, with airlifts in the case of high-value ingredients. Still, the restrictions remain in place, with the option to apply for a waiver.
- China is also a key supplier to the US. US officials are considering ways to increase domestic capacity of such drugs. Others are at least considering ways to diversify supply chains. Still, the need for regulatory oversight makes changes expensive and time consuming.
- Additionally, US production facilities themselves could be closed or capacity could be temporarily redirected to items crucial to either treating or limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Supply shortages appear to be largely a short-term issue. Though it could encourage production of APIs outside of China, there are a number of issues relating to raw material availability, expertise (or lack thereof), logistics, and government regulation. As a result, changes in supply will have a very slow transition and may not actually shift much in the long run.
For more information, see The Freedonia Group’s Global Pharmaceutical Packaging and US Pharmaceutical Packaging studies, with additional coverage from Freedonia Focus (Pharmaceuticals: United States) and our sister publisher Packaged Facts (Pet Medication in the US). Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.