Mumbai: A majority (50-70%) of chemists and stockists across the country are not clear about GST aspects, and are yet to initiate implementation processes in their businesses, indicating possible drug shortages in certain therapies. Supplies of certain medicines may get disrupted, particularly of high-value ones like oncology therapies, and those which have been launched recently, as chemists will maintain restricted inventory, but essential medicines will not be affected, Arijit Choudhary director – global accounts, QuintilesIMS told TOI.
Recently, pharma research firm, AIOCD Awacs which tracks seven lakh chemists, also said it did not foresee shortages at the consumer level. The on-ground readiness of distributors and chemists to implement GST by July 1 unfortunately remains below par, a survey conducted by information and technology-enabled healthcare service provider, Quintiles IMS says, adding, managing short-term disruption due to new tax regime will be challenging.
Significant number of distributors and stockists are yet to register themselves on the GST portal, the survey involving 200 chemists and 25 distributors across key cities in India showed. TOI had first reported on May 4 about GST sparking drug shortage fears due to attempts by stockists and trade channels to reduce inventory.
Says Amit Mookim, general manager (South Asia), QuintilesIMS, “The overall increase in tax burden will get offset by the improved efficiencies; and pharma companies are likely to absorb the additional tax burden (an estimated net increase of about 1.8% on finished formulations). While the long-term outlook remains positive, managing short-term disruption will be critical. Based on our survey, the on-ground readiness of distributors and chemists to implement GST by July 1 unfortunately remains below par; pharma companies will need to leverage cross functional participation within the organisation to ensure effective implementation.”