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Novartis subsidiary Sandoz has said that the company would keep prices stable for a basket of medicines, which may have the potential to treat patients infected by coronavirus.

The company’s announcement is in response to concerns over reports about potential price hikes and drug shortages due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

According to Sandoz, prices of approximately 20 antiviral and antibiotics will be stabilised, reported Reuters.

In a statement, Sandoz CEO Richard Saynor said: “I am very concerned about reports that prices for basic medicines such as painkillers and antibiotics are rising substantially as a result of a tightening supply situation for active pharmaceutical ingredients out of China.

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“While I continue to believe that we need a coordinated and long-term approach to address the complex and interconnected issues of pricing, supply and quality, I also strongly feel the generics industry has a particular responsibility right now to ensure that patients can get the medicines they need.

“That’s why, with immediate effect, and despite current uncertainties about how the supply situation will evolve, Sandoz is committing as an initial response to keep prices stable for certain essential medicines it markets commercially, which may help in the treatment of coronavirus cases, specifically antivirals to reduce the impact of coronavirus and antibiotics to combat pneumonia.”

Recently, US Senator Josh Hawley wrote a letter to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) highlighting concerns over drug and medical device shortages due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Hawley said that the epidemic could impact the supply of nearly 150 prescription drugs, including antibiotics, generics and branded medicines in the US.

FDA identified approximately 20 drugs at coronavirus-related shortage risk. When the agency contacted manufacturers of the identified drugs, none reported an expected shortage due to the epidemic.