March 30, 2020 / By Dan De Luce, Abigail Williams and Carol E. Lee
WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials are asking India to lift restrictions to give the U.S. access to pharmaceutical ingredients needed to produce a range of drugs, amid fears of a potential U.S. drug supply shortage prompted by the coronavirus outbreak, three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The two governments are holding discussions aimed at easing newly imposed restrictions on pharmaceutical exports from India, which Delhi introduced to ensure the country would have medicine needed to handle the pandemic inside of its borders, the sources said.
With coronavirus potentially disrupting the global supply chain for medicine, India earlier this month restricted the export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and the medicines made from them, including acetaminophen — a common pain reliever. India is the world’s leading supplier of generic drugs and is a key source for active pharmaceutical ingredients, or APIs, used to produce a range of medicines.
Apart from legal constraints on exports, India is on a 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that has hampered production and shipping of pharmaceuticals and other cargo. As a result, Trump administration officials also are trying to hammer out what drugs are available in Indian companies’ stockpiles, said a congressional aide who was briefed on the discussions.