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It’s an ‘endless wait’ for Remdesivir at Chennai’s Kilpauk Medical College

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on May 06, 2021

Tamil Nadu gets 59,000 vials of Remdesivir every week. Government says private hospitals should not force people to buy the drug and create panic.

J Gangadhar of Tiruvannamalai has been waiting for over 18 hours in the queue outside Kilpauk Medical College (KMC) Hospital in Chennai, hoping to get Remdesivir for his mother.

MRP of drug

At 10:30 am, the serpentine queue was already over a mile long as hundreds of anxious kith and kin of patients lined up at the government hospital, where the State is ensuring that the drug is available at an MRP of ₹9,480 per vial so that they do not buy it in the black market at an exorbitant price.

“It is selling at ₹50,000 in Sowcarpet, a north Chennai suburb,” said Dharamchand, who was in the queue to get the drug for his brother.

Though the queue is long, people do not mind the wait as they are sure to get the drug at MRP as most belonged to the middle- and low-income groups.

For Guna, a farmer from Chidambaram, there is no guarantee that he will get the drug for his ailing mother. But he is not discouraged.

“If not today, I will at least get it tomorrow,” he says as his relatives wait to take the drug back home.

But Sulaiman, a worker at a leather unit in Ambur, was lucky. He joined the queue at 1 am and got the vial at noon for his sister-in-law.

Though there are so many people queuing up, no arrangements have been made. “There is no water or toilet facility,” says Surya, a youngster from Virugambakkam.

“Why is Remdesivir available only in Chennai? So many people from various districts have to travel to the city to buy the drug,” rued Sebastian from Salem. The government should make the drug available at least in district headquarters, he added.

Stock adequate

Commenting on the long queues at KMC, Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan warned private hospitals not to force patients to buy the drug if it is not an absolute necessity. Every week, Tamil Nadu gets 59,000 vials of Remdesivir and there is adequate stock. However, private facilities should not force people to buy the drug and create panic among patients. “We will take action on such facilities,” he said.

According to ICMR guidelines, Remdesivir is for patients who depend on external supply of oxygen to improve the condition of their lungs.

Hospitals are allowed to buy the drug from the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation (TNMSC) on a case-to-case basis by presenting the details. To get Remdesivir at KMC, the required documents are an RT-PCR positive report; Aadhaar card and the original prescription. A number of persons had to leave empty-handed in the absence of proper documents

Published on May 05, 2021

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