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Mumbai Tragedy

Terrorism disrupts chemical and pharmaceutical industries

by Jean-François Tremblay
December 8, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 49

The terrorist attack that unfolded in Mumbai late last month is disrupting the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, if only temporarily. The city is the business hub of a country that is both a market for and a supplier of many pharmaceutical ingredients and research services.

Rafael Beaus, a former president of AFAQUIM, Spain's fine chemicals association, was seriously injured in the leg by metal fragments while in the lobby of the Taj Mahal Hotel with his wife Rosa María, who was also hurt.

So far, however, it appears that very few others from the chemical or drug industries were harmed in the attacks, which killed at least 170. "Many captains of Indian industry were killed at the Taj, but I haven't heard of anyone from our industry," says Zerxes Lashkari, president of the Mumbai-based chemical consulting firm YezPer Consultants. Lashkari doesn't expect many businesspeople to cancel trips to India. "Terrorism happens everywhere," he says.

The tragedy occurred as the pharmaceutical ingredients trade fair CPhI India was about to open in Mumbai. CPhI postponed the show to an unspecified date. Last year, the event attracted more than 10,000 attendees. Similarly, the U.S.-based Drug Information Association canceled a conference on drug discovery and development that was scheduled for Dec. 7 in Mumbai.

Large companies are restricting staff travel. A DuPont spokeswoman in Hong Kong tells C&EN that business trips to India now need the approval of the company's general manager in India. Yet at the Indian drugmaker Piramal Healthcare, Ramesh Krishnan, who manages custom manufacturing projects, says no foreign customer has canceled a trip to India so far.


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