Chennai, Oct 6 : Indian associations of syringes and medical devices manufacturers have urged the government not to restrict export of non-Covid vaccine syringes.
They also asked the government to come out with guidance on the quarterly needs of syringes, specially for the first quarter of 2022.
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade on Monday notified that syringes with or without needles have been shifted to the restricted list from the free list.
In a statement, the All India Syringe and Needle Manufacturers Association (AISNMA) said: "It takes lots of effort and years to build credibility as a global supplier and India's reputation as a manufacturing hub of syringes will be tarnished as being undependable."
Appealing to the government not to restrict export of syringes which are not required by India, the AISNMA assured that the industry "will always prioritise the domestic needs".
Expressing dismay and disappointment at the government's action, Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AIMeD) Forum Coordinator Rajiv Nath said the supply chain management is currently challenged in the country due to increased demand for standard disposable syringes in view of the spike in dengue and typhoid and others in the July-September quarter, but the demand spike will ease from mid-November.
He said the 20-odd syringe manufacturers should focus on non-Covid curative care as priority one and followed by vaccination preventive care and honouring export commitments.
Nath urged the government not to apply the restrictions on non-Covid syringes like insulin syringes, 5 ml or larger syringe sizes or 0.3 ml auto disable (AD) syringes developed for Pfizer.
The AIMeD also urged the government to allow export of 50 per cent of the quantity shipped to a country last year during October-January of 0.5/1/2/3 ml.
AISNMA Secretary Vishal Khemka said: "Countries are counting on India to support global immunisation/vaccination projects mainly for children for yellow fever or measles, hepatitis B, pentavalent or BCG etc.
Those are not the syringes used for Covax supplies of 0.5 ml AD etc."
"We cannot deprive those children from those immunisation commitments as those syringes will anyways not be used for Covid vaccination in India and will lie unused in our factories, causing us huge losses.
This is our ongoing global contractual commitments to support global vaccination projects," he added.
Nath also noted that to ensure there is no shortage of syringes, many Indian syringe manufacturers, on a voluntary basis, in the last quarter and presently as well, are not accepting new business export opportunities from many overseas buyers.
Khemka had told IANS earlier that the total Indian market size for syringes will be about 500 crore pieces of which the government supplies will be about 200 crore pieces and exports about 150 crore pieces, while the remaining will be for domestic institutional (hospitals, clinics) and retail sales.