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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Coronavirus impact on pharma and medical device manufacturing

Health Industry Hub | February 10, 2020 |

The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned Friday of shortages of protective medical gear because of the Wuhan coronavirus, adding to worries that countries could face shortages of drugs or medical devices made in China if the epidemic persists.

The WHO alert focused on personal protective equipment like masks and respirators that medical and public health personnel need to protect themselves as they treat patients and try to contain the virus’ spread. The novel strain of coronavirus has already killed at least 638 people and infected more than 31,000, mostly in China.

“Demand for such protective equipment is up to 100 times higher than normal, and prices are up to 20 times higher,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

Shortages have been exacerbated by widespread inappropriate use outside of patient care. For instance most people outside the hard-hit areas don’t need to wear masks, but they are becoming an increasingly common sight. And there have been reports of people stockpiling.

The Chinese pharmaceutical industry is expected to be adversely impacted by the coronavirus on the supply chain side. China accounts for 13% of the active pharmaceutical ingredients manufactured for the US market, according to the FDA, while India accounts for a higher 18%. Production and logistics delays could cost the Chinese API manufacturers high if the Indian competitors scale-up quickly.

With existing stock reserves and the opportunity to source stock from another site, some pharma and medical device companies may have plans in place for dealing with the impact of a health crises in the short term. However, the longer term impact on the supply chain is yet to be seen.

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