First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: While a majority of businesses are in the doldrums at present due to the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government,the market for hand sanitizer has been flourishing as it has now become an essential component in the daily hygiene routine of the people.
In recent years, the country has witnessed a rise in the number of pharmaceutical manufacturing companies that have been producing medicines to treat various kinds of ailments. However, surprisingly none were involved in making sanitizers until April this year after the lockdown came into effect.
And today, there are 40 different pharmaceutical companies manufacturing sanitizers based on the standards set by the Department of Drug Administration (DDA).
As per Tika Ram Aryal, information officer at Nepal Aushadhi Ltd, the market for sanitizers has increased significantly due to the exponential growth in demand at the moment. “Manufacturing sanitizers in the country is not an arduous task as the raw materials are easily available in the sugar factories of the Terai. There are only a few auxiliary parts that need to be imported,” he informed.According to Aryal, Nepal Aushadi alone has sold Rs 20 million worth of sanitizers under the brand name ‘Sanitize’within mid-July 2020.
A major factor that has contributed to the proliferation of sanitizer manufacturing companies in Nepal is the bitter fact that other nations that manufacture the product halted its export. This meant that when the country most needed it we faced a dire shortage of sanitizers. In an attempt to manage necessary medicinal products in the country,the government had entrusted all the responsibilities of making various medicines available in the market to DDA in the initial phase of the lockdown.
From March this year, the government has made it mandatory for all sanitizer manufacturing companies to get registered at the DDA and there have been rules and regulations formulated for the production and distribution of the product, according to Santosh KC, information officer at DDA. He further informed that DDA at initially issued a notice asking all sanitizer producing firms to get registered within May 22. This deadline was later extended by three months for those who could not register by the given time.
Meanwhile, there are several non-pharmaceutical and local manufacturers producing sanitizers that are registered at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies instead of the DDA.
Based on World Health Organization’s protocols, the DDA hasset a standard to produce sanitizers by using two types of alcohol—composition of 70 to 8 percent ethyl or is opropyl alcohol with other required components.It has also set a price ceiling that all companies need to adhere to while selling their products in the market.
According to G Narayan Bahadur Chhetri, president of the Association of Pharmaceutical Producers of Nepal (APPON),companies that are registered at the DDA need to follow the price ceiling set by the authority but those that are registered at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies have been selling their products at a higher cost and charging value added tax (VAT).
“Drug manufacturing companies are not registered under VAT, hence we can’t levy VAT while selling our products but we have been paying VAT for the sanitizers.Therefore,things need to be sorted out and made clear. The business process is stringent for the registered pharmaceutical manufacturers who follow DDA directives,”laments Chhetri. Talking about the untested sanitizers found in the market, he said that APPON had already urged the health ministry to address this problem and take strict action against erring companies.
SumanNeupane, business and finance controller at Sumy Pharmaceutical Pvt Ltd, also said that there are several cosmetic types of sanitizers and also antibacterial sanitizers in the market whereas the sanitizers produced based on the DDA standard is to prevent and control the coronavirus. He reveals that the company till date has sold sanitizers worth Rs 120 million.
According to the statistics maintained by the Department of Customs, the country imported 530,989 kg of sanitizers worth Rs 245 million as of mid-July of fiscal year 2019/20.
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