Updated: April 7, 2021 6:08:36 am
To control supply and use, Remdesivir will only be available in hospitals providing Covid-19 treatment and medical stores attached with hospitals, the Maharashtra Medical Education and Drugs department directed on Tuesday. In districts where collectors approve, few medical stores can stock the anti-viral drug.
On Tuesday, the Maharashtra government formed a committee under Dr Sudhakar Shinde to regulate price for Remdesivir and fix a ceiling price for the drug. “We will be studying and finalising maximum selling price for the drug in few days,” Shinde said.
State Minister Eknath Shinde directed state officials to ensure there is no hoarding of Remdesivir to create an artificial shortage or hike prices.
A disruption in supply chain has caused shortage of Remdesivir in a few districts. The anti-viral, first manufactured in 2014 to fight Ebola virus, has been used to treat Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome patients before it was directed for Covid-19 treatment last year.
On Tuesday, Bhandara fell short of Remdesivir vials, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials had to redirect stock from nearby districts. Last week, Latur and Aurangabad faced similar shortage.
FDA officials said districts have to generate adequate requirement for smooth supply. Several rural government hospitals are forced to ask patients to buy the vial. In Nashik, the family of Asharam Dond had to visit multiple private hospitals in search of Remdesivir after Nandgaon rural hospital said it had run out of stock. “We paid Rs 1,500 for one injection. Since the hospital didn’t have it, we had no option but to look for it,” said younger brother Shravan Dond. Though Asharam was injected with the drug, he died a day later on April 1.
The current daily requirement for Remdesivir ranges between 40,000-50,000, up from 5,000-7,000 until February, said Maharashtra FDA commissioner Abhimanyu Kale. On Tuesday there were 1.32 lakh Remdesivir vials in stock. “We have sufficient stock for now, but doctors must be judicious in use and prescribe the drug only if clinical signs suggest its need,” he said.
Maharashtra FDA has proposed to National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to bring Remdesivir under price control, seeing the surge in its use during the pandemic. The FDA has recommended bringing the drug under Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013 to cap maximum selling price. Maharashtra FDA is yet to hear from the Centre.
There are six manufacturers of Remdesivir in India, with Maharashtra majorly depending on three— Cipla, Zydus Healthcare and Hetero Healthcare. The three have fixed the drug’s price ranging from Rs 2,800 to Rs 5,400. While hospitals purchase Remdesivir in bulk at Rs 800-1,200 per vial, patients have to buy at three to four times higher price. The FDA has held meetings with manufacturers to bring down the pricing.
A drug official said the state may face a shortage of Remdesivir in coming days, if daily Covid-19 cases continue to hover around 60,000. “That would mean 3 lakh new cases in next five days. Currently we need 40,000-50,000 vials a day, and supply is almost same. The next batch of drug will be ready by April 10-15. After that it will undergo 14-day sterility test before we can approve its launch in market. There may be slight disruption in supply in those days,” a senior FDA official from drugs section said.
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