Two days after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched a drive against black marketing and hoarding of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab, the supply has been restored in the city. Maharashtra Minister of FDA Dr Rajendra Shingane told Free Press Journal, “In all 4,000 Remdesivir vials were available on Monday in the state, of which 1,674 were in Mumbai. After surprise visits and the establishment of a special squad, no fresh cases of black marketing have been reported. Remdesivir vial was sold at Rs 4,000 instead of Rs 5,400 last week. Tocilizumab injection was priced at Rs 31,500 against Rs 40,000 charged last week in the black market.’’
Dr Shingane said Cipla and Hetero have already assured to supply 21,500 Remdesivir vials by the end of the week. The supply will further improve. He stated that the FDA swung into action in order to streamline the supply of these injections whose demand surged in the last few weeks.
In a bid to stop the hoarding and blackmarketing of the medicines Tocilizumab and Remdesivir, injections used to treat COVID-19 patients, the state government stipulated that it is compulsory for the purchaser of these drugs to show a positive report for COVID-19 and a hospital prescription.
Doctors however, claim that the government's move to stop blackmarketing will only hurt patients, the reason being that in most cases, patients' reports are inconclusive. The Indian Medical Association has suggested that a better option would be to make available sufficient stocks of these two medicines, to help save lives and reduce the mortality rate in the state.
There are currently over 2.5 lakh COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, with 10,289 fatalities until July 12. Currently, there are more than one lakh active cases across the state and nearly 30,000 COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients need these injections.
“It has been learned that injections of Remdesivir or Tocilizumab are not only helpful to COVID-19 patients but also to those with inconclusive or negative test reports. A patient may have a negative report but if he has comorbidities, they should be administered these injections,” said Dr Avinash Bhondwe, president, IMA Maharashtra.
He further said the supply of medicines is low as compared to the demand. While the FDA decision is welcome, there should be proper streamlining of the process of procuring medicine depending on demand. “The state government should procure these injections in a phased manner, as we cannot say when demand will increase. If hospitals have the adequate stock, then patients can receive these injections immediately and it will help the FDA and the government to curb black marketing,” Dr Bhondwe added.
Doctors treating COVID-19 patients at the civic hospitals said there are 5 to 6 patients at the hospitals whose reports are negative, but they need to be administered these injections daily, as their other health parameters are a matter of concern, including their oxygen saturation levels and comorbidities. “These injections also help cure patients whose reports are inconclusive. So, the FDA should not restrict these injections to COVID-19 patients alone but should order the hospital to use it on patients in urgent need,” said a doctor.