Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (March 21) told the pharma industry his government has approved schemes worth ₹14,000 crore in order to ensure production of critical drugs and medical equipment within the country amid the coronavirus threat.
According to an official statement, the prime minister has also requested the industry leaders to work on manufacture of RNA diagnostic kits for COVID-19 on war footing.
In an interaction with them via video conference, Modi said not only does the industry need to ensure maintenance of supply lines of essential medicines, medical kits and equipment, but it should also try to come up with new and innovative solutions.
He said the government is committed to helping the industry in maintaining the supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), underlining the importance of manufacture of such APIs within the country.
The prime minister said in order to ensure production of critical drugs and medical equipment within the country, the government has approved schemes worth ₹10,000 crore and ₹4,000 crore respectively.
Modi said pharma producers and distributors have a crucial role to play in combating the challenge of COVID-19.
He asked the medicine retailers and pharmacists to be on constant vigil to ensure black marketing and hoarding of medicines is avoided and supply of essentials maintained. He suggested wherever feasible, supply of medicines in bulk may be avoided.
The prime minister said that in this hour of need, it is imperative for the industry to work continuously and also ensure that there is no shortage of workforce in the pharma sector.
He suggested exploration of home-delivery model to allow for maintenance of social distancing at pharmacies, and also promotion of usage of digital payment mechanisms to prevent the spread of the virus.
The pharmaceutical associations thanked Modi for his leadership in this time of crisis, the statement said, adding it underscored its commitment to maintaining supply of essential medicines and equipment, and are also working on developing vaccines.
They said that government’s policy announcements for the pharma sector will give the sector a huge boost.
In a separate statement, the Prime Minister’s Office urged people to follow Modi’s appeal for ‘hanata curfew’ between 7 am to 9 pm on Sunday. It also appealed people to follow his suggestion to thank service providers like medical staff, delivery persons and transport personnel among others at 5 pm by clapping hands or ringing bells for five minutes.
(With inputs from agencies)