Paracetamol curbs amid Covid dent monsoon sales
Paracetamol, a common pain and fever medication sold over the counter, has seen a significant fall in sales in the last few months. Sales of paracetamol are typically high during monsoon when cold and flu ailments are common.
However, owing to government legislation (state level) and monitoring of cold and flu drugs, sales of paracetamol at the retail level has suffered this year. What’s more, sales of key brands (which have a higher recall value) have seen a bigger plunge.
Sample this: Sales of paracetamol as a category is down 20.5 per cent in August. Sales of Calpol (a Glaxosmithkline Pharma brand) is down 31.5 per cent while sales of Crocin (Glaxosmithkline Consumer brand) is down by 28 per cent.
Rajiv Singhal, general secretary of the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists, said much of the sales of paracetamol happens over the counter. Singhal clarified that retailers are not selling cold and flu medications over the counter any more due to government directives.
“It is important to keep a tab on sales of such medicines to understand if a Covid19 suspect is slipping out from the testing net. We are not dispensing cold and flu medications without a valid prescription,” he said.
During April-may, several state governments had stepped up vigilance on sales of paracetamol, common analgesics and anti-allergy medications as well as antibiotics that are used to treat respiratory infections (like azithromycin).
States such as Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, and parts of Bihar had issued advisories to record patient details (phone number and addresses) for those who buy cold and cough medicines.
This is often a difficult ask for the numerous mom-andpop chemist stores that are usually manned by the owner and a helper at best.
The chemists thus decided to stick to dispensing these medicines only to those who brought a prescription.
Firms admit that the current pandemic and the vigil on paracetamol sales has affected sales of their brands. A spokesperson from GSK Pharma said sales were hit in the last few months due to the government legislations. “Things, however, have started easing now and we expect sales to pick up in the coming months,” he added.
An exective of another pharmaceutical firm, which sells a popular paracetamol brand, pointed out that in the wake of the Chinese crisis and a fear that key drugs may face shortage due to supply disruption of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIS), the government began a stock-taking exercise across the country.
“Initially, the government asked us to share data daily on how much paracetamol we are producing, what is the inventory of the API and the key starting material. Companies suggested that they will share data on a weekly basis. The government was trying to ensure there was no shortage in the domestic market,” the person said.
With the restrictions easing, domestic pharma players expect sales of paracetamol to pick up during winter.