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India: 5.5 lakhs of medicines withdrawn by state over drug shortage

India is witnessing an unprecedented crisis in the production of medicine, the country’s health ministry has said, citing a report from the countrys top scientific body.

The ministry said the shortage of medicines has impacted more than 5.52 lakhs, or nearly 1 per cent of the country, making India one of the world’s worst in terms of shortages of medicines.

The figures are the highest since the start of the year, when India reported 4.2 lakhs in shortages, the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The ministry added that medicines are being supplied only at a rate of 1.2 per cent.

“The shortage of medicine is being caused by a serious deterioration in the quality of the supply of medicines,” it said.

A doctor said in February that there was a sharp rise in the number of people being admitted for non-urgent surgical operations due to the shortage.

India has an estimated 2.6 lakh doctors and is facing a huge shortage of drugs.

Drug shortages have worsened in the past several years.

Since 2014, India has been in a period of sharp political turmoil as it has been rocked by protests over the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and a series of suicides by people protesting the government’s handling of the crisis.

In February, the government suspended the licences of almost two dozen major drug companies, including GSK and India’s largest generic maker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.