People queue outside the Chemists Association office for Remdesivir, an antiviral drug, in Pune.
People queue outside the Chemists Association office for Remdesivir, an antiviral drug, in Pune.
(Photo by AFP)

In a concerted attempt to curtail misuse of the drug Remdesivir, the State Public Health Department has suggested that retailers dispense the injection only if it is accompanied by information submitted by head of the hospital about the patient with the prescription in the given format.

This will be the arrangement till some other alternate mechanism is worked out, it has been conveyed to the Medial Education Department.

According to Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas, in the last few days, huge crowds have been seen outside retail units asking for Remdesivir injection; this is unnecessarily leading to considerable panic as every drug has its own limitations.

Remdesivir has been shown to reduce the duration of stay in the hospital but has no effect whatsoever on the mortality due to COVID 19 infection and this needs to be highlighted. Further, it is of use only if prescribed in the initial few days based on indications.

‘‘Separately, a review is being undertaken of the stocks available with the manufacturers to streamline the supplies; but, at the same time, it is also necessary that doctors and physicians follow protocol and ascertain the genuineness of need, prescription and identity of the patient,’’ said Dr Vyas.

He recalled that in October 2020 the Maharashtra government had come out with a scheme to supply Remdesivir injection to private hospitals at a fixed cost; also, there was a format in which physicians were supposed to tabulate the information available with them while prescribing the medicine.

The fresh move has come just when the health commissioner has directed all district collectors to set up a control room to ensure smooth supply of Remdesivir injections in the state.

In this context, Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope and Food and Drug Administration Minister Dr Rajendra Shingane held a meeting with the producers of Remdesivir vials and asked them to increase the production and cap its price. Further, Dr Shingane warned retailers of punitive action in case of black marketing.

Ban on export as well

India on Sunday banned export of the anti-viral drug Remdesivir amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country. In an order, the government said it has banned export of Remdesivir injection and Remdesivir active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) till the pandemic situation in the country stabilises.

"India is witnessing a recent surge in Covid cases. As on April 11, there are 11.08 lakh active Covid cases and they are steadily increasing. This has led to a sudden spike in demand for injection Remdesivir used in treatment of Covid patients. There is a potential of further increase in this demand in the coming days," the government said in a statement.

Seven Indian companies are producing Remdesivir under voluntary licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences, US. They have an installed capacity of about 38.80 lakh units per month. To ensure that more people get Remdesivir, the government said manufactures of the drug have been asked to show on their website the details of their stockists and distributors. Drugs inspectors and other officers have been asked to verify stocks, check any malpractice and stop hoarding and black marketing.

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