Vitamin C has been disappearing from chemist shops.
This widely taken supplement, with an estimated market of Rs 200 crore annually, has been in short supply because pharmaceutical companies have been reducing production.
The raw material for Vitamin C production comes from China. With China raising the price raw materials, Indian manufacturers find producing Vitamin C a losing proposition, as they are not allowed to pass on the entire burden to the consumer.
The prices of 74 essential drugs in India, which include Vitamin C, are controlled by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), which has not allowed manufacturers to raise the price to the extent they wanted.
“In order to bring down pollution levels before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China shut down many of the factories which manufactured the raw material,” said Dr Swati Piramal of Piramal Healthcare, a leading Vitamin C manufacturer.
The factories, which inducted expensive non-polluting technology, were allowed to continue. But their costs rose, and they promptly increased the raw material’s cost.
“We have written to NPPA saying it is not sustainable to manufacture large quantities of Vitamin C,” said Rajesh Sharma, supply chain head of Anglo French.
“If price is a constraint, we will certainly look into it,” said NPPA chairman Dr S.M. Jharwal.