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Global policy leaders and governments must “do everything in their power to keep the manufacturing operations and the supply chain of essential medicines operating at full capacity” as part of world efforts to address the coronavirus outbreak, according to the International Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association.

It was “critical to keep the supply chain of essential medicines manufacturing operating at full capacity,” the global off-patent industry association said, to “allow our companies to continue to produce much-needed critical medicines.”

Concerns over the international off-patent industry’s supply chain were raised when India’s government recently restricted exports of 13 active pharmaceutical ingredients and formulations, including paracetamol, “until further notice.” (Also see "India Curbs Exports Amid Coronavirus" - Generics Bulletin, 4 Mar, 2020.)

Meanwhile, European industry representatives have recently pointed to the challenges that could be posed by restrictions on movement that affect international logistics and manufacturing.

‘Unreasonable Restrictions’ Do More Harm Than Good

“While we support the need to protect healthcare workers and to provide hospitals with essential materials,” the IGBA stated, “putting unreasonable restrictions on exports of essential medical supplies or medicines will do more harm than good at this time of urgent need.”

Hanan Sboul – who became IGBA chair at the start of the year  (Also see "Sboul Is Appointed IGBA Chair" - Generics Bulletin, 9 Jan, 2020.) – insisted that “given the pandemic nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, manufacturers of generic and biosimilar medicines around the world need to produce at maximum capacity while ensuring maximum safety for the industry staff.”

The global industry association emphasized that it was “crucial that essential health products can circulate without delays to meet the rising demands around the globe,” especially given that many countries had closed borders to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

As such, the IGBA said it welcomed recent moves by the European Commission to provide guidelines for border management measures that would protect health and ensure that goods and essential services remained available. (Also see "‘Green Lanes’ Will Help EU Fight Coronavirus" - Generics Bulletin, 18 Mar, 2020.)

At the same time, the association praised the World Health Organization’s response to the pandemic, encouraging the WHO to “continue their highly valued, non-stop efforts and expertise to contain and mitigate this unprecedented coronavirus outbreak.”

“Our industry is a party to that co-operation and is sharing information with its leaders so that patients continue to receive their medicines all over the world,” the IGBA stated.

“We join the WHO in calling on all countries to act without delay on the eight pillars of the WHO’s strategic preparedness and response plan,” said IGBA secretary general Suzette Kox. “Solidarity, co-operation and international co-ordination are needed urgently to protect public health and lives.”

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