China virus outbreak threatens global drug supplies: European business group

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The world’s pharmacies may face a shortage of antibiotics and other drugs if supply problems from China’s coronavirus outbreak cannot soon be resolved, the head of a European business group in China warned on Tuesday.

EU Chamber of Commerce President Joerg Wuttke added that Beijing was making supply chain problems worse with a mandatory quarantine of arrivals from abroad as it battles the virus, which has killed more than 1 800 Chinese mainly in the central province of Hubei.

Chinese media reported on Friday that the capital is requiring a 14 day quarantine for all arrivals, which Wuttke said would make it difficult to fly in technical experts to help if facilities are down.

Calling the measure unreasonable and against WHO guidelines, he told a roundtable in Beijing it would “cause more harm to business than many of the other things”.

Wuttke also highlighted the difficulties faced by the auto industry due to disruption of deliveries of supplies in China, and surging inventories.

Companies are also running out of packaging material and face challenges with regulatory uncertainties, he said.

“The magnitude of the challenges is just really huge,” he said.

He added that the disruption from the coronavirus epidemic had driven home the need to diversify away from China.

“People have now woken up to the fact that you must have a backup plan.”