Diabetic patients might have to take extreme precaution for a few days. The supply of insulin, along with many other medicine which need refrigeration, is in short supply.
Pharmacist associations say cancellation of domestic flights - both cargo and passenger - has affected the supply of refrigerated medicines in many parts. Add to that the restrictions on inter-state movement of vehicles and the supply chain is all but broken. There are complaints of other common medicines like Crocin and Digene also being in short supply.
“The shortage of other essential medicines might be confined to a locality or two due to panic buying. However, the supply of refrigerated medicines has suffered due to supply-chain disturbances because of the lockdown," says Abhay Kumar, President, Indian Pharmacist Association (IPA). “I need Cyclosporine for my relative. It is an essential medicine for kidney transplant patients. I didn’t find it anywhere in Noida. It is available in chemist shops in Delhi but I can’t go there due to border lockdown,” says Sameer Pushp, a Noida resident.
Diabetic patients in India take about three to four million insulin shots every month. These have to be kept in temperatures between two to eight degrees Celsius. With the lockdown, movement of refrigerated vans became a problem. "Vehicles need permissions from various state authorities to pass through. It delayed the supply initially for a couple of days which caused some shortage at some part of the country," says TV Narayana, National President, the Indian Pharmaceutical Association (IPA).
Agrees Prashant Tandon, CEO and founder, 1mg, an online pharmaceutical company. "There are issue in the supply chain of insulin injections and other refrigerated medicines. Supply to manufacturers to distributors as well as distributors to retailers is not solve yet." Now, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has issued instructions to the state drug control departments to ensure smooth movement of vehicles carrying refrigerated medicines. The government has started a helpline number too for those facing problems getting medicines: 011-23062487.
Even online order is refused as the courier companies, which have a tie-up with brands for distribution, are not ready to deliver life-saving drugs. Tandon promises this will be sorted out soon. "There is no dearth of medicine in the country. We didn’t operate for March 23 and 24 but now we are slowly going live in all cities,” he says. “There might be a little bit of shortage here and there which some people are circulating on WhatsApp and creating panic. I assure everyone that companies have enough stock of all necessary medicines,” says Abhay Kumar. Sameer Pushp will hope he is right.