India will supply Europe with about 1,000 tonnes of the active pharmaceutical ingredient for common pain reliever paracetamol, a top exports body said, easing export controls on over-the counter medicines used to cope with COVID-19 symptoms.
The Indian government in March put a hold on exports of several drugs including paracetamol to secure supplies for its people after the coronavirus outbreak disrupted the industry’s supply chain globally. COVID-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Europe has sought up to 800 tonnes of paracetamol APIs every month, said Dinesh Dua, chairman of the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India.
“We have been under immense pressure from the European Union for the last 10 days,” Dua said.
The European Union delegation in India did not immediately reply to an email from Reuters requesting comment on the planned shipment.
Indian authorities have asked drugmakers to ensure the country is adequately stocked for up to four months of domestic requirements, Dua said.
India, the world’s main supplier of generic drugs, has shipped 1.9 million tablets and other forms of paracetamol to 31 countries, the foreign ministry said late last month, adding that consignments of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol were being sent to 87 countries on a commercial basis.
Europe is India’s biggest buyer of paracetamol APIs and imports around 12,000 tonnes annually, according to Pharmexcil estimates. The common pain reliever is also sold as acetaminophen.
The novel coronavirus outbreak has killed more than a quarter of a million people and Europe has accounted for 57% of the global death toll.
India has so far reported more than 49,000 cases of COVID-19. The outbreak has not shown any signs of slowing despite a severe lockdown that has confined its population of 1.3 billion to their homes since late March.
Britain has overtaken Italy to report the highest official death toll from coronavirus in Europe with more than 32,000 deaths, figures released on Tuesday showed.
The high death toll could increase political pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who waited longer than other European leaders to order a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus in March.
Weekly figures from Britain’s national statistics office added more than 7,000 deaths in England and Wales, raising the total for the United Kingdom to 32,313.
The figure is one of several methods for calculating deaths and difficult to compare with other countries, but it offers the clearest sign yet that Britain could emerge as the worst-hit country in Europe, despite being hit later than other countries.
Opposition parties have raised questions about Johnson’s initial decision to delay a lockdown at a time when hospitals in Italy were already being overrun.
They also say his government was too slow to introduce mass testing and provide enough protective equipment to hospitals.
The true figure for deaths from coronavirus may be even higher. The Office of National Statistics said 33,593 more people had died than average up to April 24 in England and Wales, compared to 27,365 cases in which coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificates.