Several cities across India, including Mumbai, Bangalore are reportedly facing a shortage of the experimental antiviral drug Remdesivir. Delhi is also struggling to source it from other cities or buying it at exorbitant prices. According to HT report, doctors are blaming to increase in demand of the life-saving drug and limited supply of the medicine for its shortage. The Union health ministry on June 13 had allowed its emergency use for treating COVID-19 patients with moderate symptoms.
DCGI wrote to drug controllers of the states asking them to keep a watch on black marketeering. The medicine is unavailable at pharmacies for personal use and is sold for institutional use to hospitals treating Covid-19 patients directly.
In Delhi, both private and government hospitals have reported depleting stock of the medicine.
“There is a shortage of Remdesivir to some extent since the drug is now approved as a first-line treatment for moderate to severe [patients]... and demand has increased. We are currently managing through the inter-unit transfer of available stocks within the hospitals based on requirements. We have received support and assurance of fresh supplies from the manufacturer. We understand that other manufacturers are also entering the market shortly, and hopefully, that will ease out the supply shortage to some extent,” said Fortis Healthcare in a statement.
Max Hospital in Delhi's Saket also reported a shortage of the drug over the last three days.
“We have not received any fresh stocks of this important drug since the beginning of this month. This could be because of having only one manufacturer across the country as of now. We are hopeful that the scenario may change by the end of this week with some more drug manufacturers joining in,” the hospital said in a statement.
In Mumbai, reports suggest that stocks of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab at Byculla Pharmacy and Stores were exhausted on July 5. However, the drug manufacturer Cipla has reportedly said that stocks will be replenished by the end of this week.
The Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) on June 1 allowed Gilead Sciences, which holds the patent for Remdesivir, to start importing the medicine. Three Indian manufacturers – Hetero, Cipla, and Mylan-- have since been allowed to manufacture the drug in India.
President of the Indian Medical Association, Dr Parthiv Sanghvi spoke to Mirror Now about the ground realities on the matter. “These drugs now form a part of treatment protocol after being sanctioned by ICMR. But the problem now is that these drugs are not available in adequate amount. Unfortunately, the patients have increased and for this increased number we need proper supplies. The shortage of these drugs will hinder the treatment and that's why the government should intervene in the matter now," Dr Sanghvi said.
Meanwhile, as India faces shortage of remdesivir, pharma major Cipla said it will launch its version of remdesivir in the next one to two days. According to sources, Cipla has priced its generic version of Remdesivir, Cipremi, at 4,000 rupees ($53.34) per 100 mg vial, making it among the lowest priced versions of the COVID-19 treatment available so far globally. Cipla had earlier said pricing would not exceed 5,000 rupees.