Penicillin G (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – S&T)

News-CRUX-10     8th March 2024        
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Context: India will start manufacturing the common antibiotic Penicillin G later this year, three decades after the country’s last plant shut down.

oThis is one of the successes of the government’s Production Linked Incentive scheme launched during the pandemic to promote domestic manufacturing  the scheme gives incentives to companies on incremental sales.

Penicillin G

  • About: Penicillin G is the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) found in common antibiotics.
  • Production: The production of Penicillin G in India ceased due to the influx of cheaper Chinese alternatives.
  • Usage and Scope of Penicillin G: According to the United States government's National Library of Medicine, Penicillin G is a narrow spectrum antibiotic.

oIt is employed in the treatment of serious bacterial infections such as pneumonia, meningitis, gonorrhea, syphilis, etc.

  • Administration and Absorption of Penicillin G: Due to poor oral absorption, Penicillin G is commonly administered intravenously or intramuscularly.
  • Side Effects: Penicillin G may exhibit side effects in some patients, emphasizing the importance of careful administration and monitoring.

Reasons for the Halt in Penicillin Manufacturing in India

  • Subsidy-driven Competition from China: Penicillin G manufacturing in India ceased due to the influx of cheaper Chinese products, driven by subsidies, which flooded the market.
  • Impact on Indian Companies: The last plant to discontinue Penicillin G production was owned by Torrent Pharma in Ahmedabad. Several other Indian companies that once manufactured the antibiotic faced similar challenges.
  • Price Disparity: Despite having at least five companies producing Penicillin G in the 90s, Indian manufacturers couldn't compete with the remarkably low prices of Chinese products.
  • Business Closure and Asset Disposal: The competitive pressure forced Indian manufacturers to cease operations. Consequently, the once thriving Penicillin G plants had to be sold for scrap, marking the end of an era.

Impact of PLI Schemes

  • Decrease in API Imports: There has been a decline in the imports of APIs since the launch of the PLI scheme.
  • Example of Paracetamol: Take the example of paracetamol — before the pandemic, we were importing two-thirds of the API needed, now that volume has halved.
  • PLI Scheme Incentive Structure: The scheme envisages a support of 20% for the first four years, 15% for the fifth year, and 5% for the sixth year.
  • Eligible Sales: Support is provided on eligible sales of fermentation-based bulk drugs such as antibiotics, enzymes, and hormones like insulin.
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