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Govt. imposes curbs on drug exports

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Govt. imposes curbs on drug exports

What to study?

For Prelims: What are APIs, drugs on which curbs have been imposed.

For Mains: Implications and concerns over these measures.

Context: India has restricted the export of common medicines such as paracetamol and 25 other pharmaceutical ingredients and drugs made from them, as it looked to prevent shortages amid concerns of the COVID-19 outbreak turning into a pandemic.

Drugs whose exports is restricted:

Besides over-the-counter painkiller and fever reducer paracetamol, drugs restricted for exports included common antibiotics metronidazole, those used to treat bacterial and other infections, as well as vitamin B1 and B12 ingredients.


In February, the Department of Pharmaceuticals asked the DGFT to issue orders restricting the export of 12 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and formulations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

What’s the concern now?

Although India is source of about 20% of the world’s generic drug supply, pharmaceutical companies in the country are dependent on China for two-thirds of the chemical components needed to make them. The outbreak of COVID-19 has shut factories in China and impacted supplies, leading to fears of a shortage.


This restriction has not gone down well with the exporters. For exporters, it is going to be a problem and will have an impact on reputation too.

What are APIs?

API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) means the active ingredient which is contained in medicine. For example, an active ingredient to relieve pain is included in a painkiller. This is called API. A small amount of the active ingredient has an effect, so only a tiny part of the active ingredient is contained in medicine.

Components of Medications:

All drugs are made up of two core components: the API, which is the central ingredient, and the excipient, the substances other than the drug that helps deliver the medication to your system. Excipients are chemically inactive substances, such as lactose or mineral oil in the pill.

Insta Link:

Prelims link:

  1. What are APIs?
  2. Other ingredients in a medicine?


Mains Link:

How imposing curbs on drugs export affect India’s image globally. Critically comment.

Sources: the Hindu.