Like some drugs, the Beijing Olympics has had adverse side effects. As you know, China shut down an entire swath of industry to clear the air over Beijing for the games. Among the shutdowns were plants that churn out raw materials for drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients. During the games, Indian drugmakers were finding active ingredients scarce, and costly, too. And now South African pharma companies are complaining of Olympics-based raw materials shortages.
The problem is particularly acute in South Africa, which sets fixed prices for drugs. Though some ingredients have tripled in cost, local drugmakers have had to take the hit. And according to one pharma exec, the Olympics problem has been exacerbated by rising fuel prices and an increase in costs for commodities such as starch that are used in making many drugs. Some small drugmakers have even discontinued certain products because of ingredient shortages and rising prices, putting meds such as antidepressants, diuretics, penicillin, and brochodilators in short supply.