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Monday, Jul 03, 2006

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Prevention is better than cure for Mumbai drug cos

P. T. Jyothi Datta

They take guard lock, stock and barrel against any unexpected downpour

Taking guard
High-risk and high-value products are being kept at higher levels
Companies are scouting for new warehousing facilities in New Mumbai either to move entire stocks there eventually or to at least minimise risk by distributing stocks between the different centres

A FILE photo of a flooded Mumbai road in July 2005.

Mumbai , July 2

Memories of 94 centimetres rain in a day, an extraordinary downpour witnessed in Mumbai last July, have forced drug companies to board-up its medicine warehouses as the monsoons bring in more rains.

A single day's rain and flooding at the Bhiwandi warehouse on the outskirts of Mumbai had rendered about Rs 1,000 crore worth of medicine stocks ineffective, last year. Several large drug-makers, including Pfizer, Cipla and Ranbaxy have their warehouses at Bhiwandi.

`Doing things differently'

But this year, they are "doing things differently" to protect medicine stocks, just in case exceptionally heavy rains hit the city again. "We are keeping high-risk and high-value at higher levels and are not storing too many products in a single area," Mr Kewal Handa, Managing Director of Pfizer in India, told Business Line. Pfizer had lost medicines worth Rs 100 crore last year due to the rains in July.

Cipla too is adopting similar strategies. "We are re-distributing to other locations so all stocks are not centralised in one place. High-value medicines are being stored at higher-levels," said the Cipla's Chief Financial Officer, Mr S Radhakrishnan. Preparing for the rains, this time, Cipla is planning to get insurance personnel to survey its goods prior to the rains as well, he added.

New facilities

Some drug companies are scouting for new warehousing facilities at New Mumbai, either to move entire stocks there eventually or to at least minimise risk by distributing stocks between the different centres, a representative with a chemist association said

Canalising safety

Meanwhile, the owner of the major Bhiwandi warehouse compound has also taken some measures to make sure there is no repeat performance, said a representative with a leading drug-maker.The authorities have cleared the canals surrounding the compound, made it wider and removed blockages, he said.

But the company is taking no chances. It has moved to a different warehouse in the same location, away from the canals. And to be doubly sure, he said, it has moved to the first floor!

Related Stories:
Mumbai deluge: Drug cos look at alternative sites for warehouses
Drug cos face daunting task of destroying damaged stocks
Medicine stocks worth Rs 180 cr destroyed in Mumbai floods

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