As Hindustan Syringes factories shut down, health ministry calls for exemption

On Saturday, the Union Health Ministry learned of the Haryana Pollution Control Board’s voluntary closure notice to Hindustan Syringes and Medical Devices Ltd (HMD) and requested redress. The ministry has requested an exemption for factories producing essential and critical drugs and devices.

The company operates three factories in Faridabad, Haryana, and supplies 66% of the syringes used in the country. HMD’s factories are among 228 factories that have been asked to voluntarily shut down as part of the Haryana government’s fight against pollution.

The Ministry of Health, headed by Mansukh Mandaviya, has taken action as the closure of HMD units would have a severe impact on syringe production. Syringe availability is crucial as India seeks to ramp up its Covid-19 vaccination campaign amid Omicron fear.

“As soon as we learned of the closure notice, we discussed it with the relevant government authorities. We have asked them to exempt factories manufacturing drugs and critical devices from the directive, ”an official said.

HMD chief executive Rajiv Nath also called on the government to declare Covid-critical medical devices, such as syringes, as a product of national importance to ensure uninterrupted production.

Nath estimates the central government would have around two weeks of syringe stock for Covid-19 and believes the disruption would impact the government’s goal of vaccinating all adults by the end of December. However, he sees a greater challenge for hospitals and nursing homes that don’t keep a large inventory.

“We are committed to providing 75 million syringes of 0.5 ml each to the government. In a few months, we are delivering eight months and have diverted our capacity to the domestic market after the government banned exports, ”Nath said.

“Most of HMD’s factories run on environmentally friendly piped natural gas (PNG). We have captive power generation based on PNG. We have backup diesel generator sets but hardly used because we have PNG which is much cheaper and pollution free. We are not a polluting industry and one of our factories has just obtained gold certification for green building to meet sustainability standards, ”he added.

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