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Gujarat FDCA gears up for capacity enhancement of medical oxygen

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Considering the increased requirement for medical oxygen during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gujarat FDCA is requesting state authorities to give ‘ambulance’ status to vehicles transporting medical oxygen

Following the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) letter to all state drug controllers to ensure the uninterrupted availability of medical oxygen, the Gujarat Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) organised a meeting with the medical oxygen manufacturers aiming to enhance the production of medical oxygen in the state. The state FDA authority also raised and discussed the industry’s problems with the different government departments requesting immediate assistance in ensuring the continuous production of medical oxygen.

Presently, the state has total 55 medical oxygen manufacturers, but due to issues like power staggering, interrupted power supply, logistics, etc. these manufacturers are reportedly not able to utilise their 100 per cent capacity.

Realising the challenges faced by the industry and need of continuous supply of medical oxygen across the country, Dr Hemant Koshia, commissioner, Gujarat FDCA commented, “Considering the issues faced by the medical as well as industrial oxygen manufacturers in the state, we discussed the matter with the representatives from the state power and energy department, home affairs along with state health ministry department and requested them to provide uninterrupted power supply to the industry. Besides this, we also discussed the challenges faced by the manufacturers during the inter-state movement, and requested them for immediate assistance.”

Considering the increased requirement for medical oxygen during the COVID-19 pandemic, he further shared, “We are also requesting state government authorities to give status of ‘ambulance’ to vehicles transporting medical oxygen in the state, which will ensure that even rural areas of the state get continuous supply and availability of medical oxygen.”

On September 21, 2020 the Central Government has gazetted the provision of Motor Vehicle Act 1988, (59 of 1988) of section 66, which states that a transport vehicle, used exclusively for the carriage of oxygen during the period of COVID–19 pandemic will not apply the subsection (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act 1988 up to March 31, 2021.

Koshia also updated that presently with 55 medical oxygen manufacturers in the state, the output is 800 metric tonnes, out of which only 200 metric tonnes of medical oxygen are used by Gujarat in the COVID–19 dedicated centers and hospitals. According to him, most of Gujarat’s surplus medical oxygen finds its way to Madhya Pradesh as this state has very limited manufacturers.

“Although, presently, the manufacturers are able to utilise only of 80-90 per cent of their capacity once all these issues are addressed, they will be able to utilise 100 per cent of their facilities, which will result more production as well as enhance our ability to supply medical oxygen to other states as well.”

Reportedly, Gujarat had only 30 medical oxygen manufacturers pre COVID-19, which has now increased to 55, of which eight are primarily manufacturers. The state also has 50 industrial oxygen manufacturers.

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