India on Saturday imposed a three-month export restriction of three types of injection syringes, fearing a shortage for the Covid-19 vaccination program after ignoring repeated demand from syringe manufacturers on future planning and l ‘Prior commitment to address such a shortage in the world’s largest adult immunization program.
The Union Health Ministry said there would be a “quantitative restriction” on the export of three specific types of syringes and that manufacturers are free to meet their international commitments with other types of syringes.
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The three types of syringes prohibited for export are (1) disposable 0.5 ml / 1 ml syringes; (2) 0.5ml / 1ml / 2ml / 3ml disposable syringes and (3) 1ml / 2ml / 3ml RUP syringes (re-use prevention).
The government’s clarification comes four days after the Directorate-General for Foreign Trade issued a statement on Oct. 5 that the policy for exporting syringes with and without needles had been changed from “free” to “restricted”. This sparked strong reactions from the medical device industry due to the international orders they had.
With the amended order, the 20 Indian manufacturers can export a total of 4 crore of syringes per month, which is less than a third of the normal export of such syringes per month. The DGFT would decide which company would export how many parts.
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“That’s at least partial relief. We can also export 0.3ml syringes (needed for Pfizer-BNT vaccine) as per our COVAX commitment. But advance planning was needed on the part of the government, which would have had to inform the manufacturers of the country’s requirements, ”said Rajiv Nath, president and CEO of Hindustan Syringes and Medical Device Ltd – the world’s largest manufacturers of auto-disable syringes, to DH.
Since last year, Nath and a few others have called on the Department of Health to do early planning exercises by bringing in industry, so that manufacturers have enough time to ramp up production. “Such an approach is better than having tenders with a two week deadline and a penalty clause,” he said.
As of December 2020, HMD has provided 48.4 crore of AD syringes through the first week of October. Currently, the company is executing three orders totaling an additional 31 crore of syringes.
There are three other auto-disable syringe supplies for the Department of Health in addition to nearly 15 disposable syringe suppliers.
India has administered over 94 crore of doses of Covid-19 vaccine and the average daily vaccination currently stands at over 70 lakh. But the goal is to vaccinate adults 94 crore plus with two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
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