Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 8
India aims to augment the domestic production of antiviral drug Remdesivir’s injectable formulation to at least five lakh vials by August. The authorities have also come down heavily on black marketers of the medicine currently seen as a lifesaver.
As COVID cases reached the 7,42,417-mark on Thursday after a daily spike of 22,752 cases, the government sent out clear directives to three domestic manufacturers of Remdesivir to upload their stock situation, supply and distribution chain details for the Centre to monitor the flow of the drug to each patient.
Health Ministry, through the Central Drug Standards Control Organisation, on Thursday asked Hetero Drugs, Cipla and Mylan Labs (firms permitted to manufacture Remdesivir generic version in India) to make the supply chain details public. This was done after the government received complaints that one Remdesivir vial, priced at Rs 5,400 by Hetero Drugs, was being sold in the black market between Rs 15,000 to Rs 60,000.
The Government had included Remdesivir in the COVID clinical management protocol on June 16 as an investigational therapy for severely ill patients whose oxygen parameters were not improving otherwise.
Though the government directed that Remdesivir will not be sold off the shelf and will only be directly supplied to hospitals for patients needing oxygen management, complaints have been pouring in about medical shops telling customers that the drug is in short supply but can be provided if they pay a premium.
Doctors have been asking families of severely sick COVID patients to arrange the drug themselves.
While Hetero Drugs launched its generic version of the US-based firm Gilead’s Remdesivir in India recently, Cipla launched its product on Thursday with the assurance of producing 10,000 vials every four days.
Mylan’s Remdesivir launch is expected between July 22 and 24 with an initial manufacturing capacity of 2.70 lakh vials a month which can be augmented to 4 lakh a month.
“The supply situation on Remdesivir front will soon ease,” said a government source. The apex drug Controller has also ordered state counterparts to crack down on hoarders and black marketers of the drug.
Meanwhile, the national recovery rate improved to 61.5 per cent on Thursday even as the toll climbed to 20,642 with 482 new fatalities.
The number of recoveries as of today are 4,56,830 as against 2,64,944 active cases.
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