Business Standard

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.

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