As reports of shortages and black-marketing of antiviral Remdesivir come in from across the country, the Centre intervened to make the injectable more affordable for patients.
Seven companies licensed to make the drug in India have “voluntarily lowered” their prices per 100mg/vial, in the range of 25-70 per cent. The companies include Cadila Healthcare, Syngene International, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Cipla, Mylan, Jubilant Generics and Hetero Healthcare, a note from the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority said.
States crack down
This, even as Andhra Pradesh cracked the whip and capped Remdesivir price at ₹2,500 for 100mg; Karnataka threatened action against black-marketeers, and Maharashtra started a toll-free number for patients needing the drug.
US company Gilead Sciences had given voluntary licences on Remdesivir to these seven companies to make in India and for select countries.
Just a week ago, the Centre had imposed a ban on the export of Remdesivir injection and its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) till the Covid situation improves, in an effort to meet rising demand.
Responding to States’ concerns on the short supply of Remdesivir, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted on Saturday, “To meet the increasing demand of Remdesivir and to enhance its availability and affordability, the government has capped its price.”
Price cap and tenders
In Andhra Pradesh, following the price-cap orders issued by Anil Kumar Singhal, Principal Secretary (Medical & Health), all hospitals on the State’s Arogyasree network, and non-network hospitals, have been asked not to charge more than ₹2,500 for the injection.
Out of stock
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories said that it has run out of Remdesivir stocks. An announcement on its website read: “Currently we are out of stock of Remdesivir. We will regularly update the website as we get new batches of stocks.”
K Sudhakar, Karnataka Health Minister said, “We have ensured there is no shortage of Remdesivir in the State. A tender has been floated to purchase 84,000 units of Remdesivir.”
Further, Basavaraj Bommai, Karnataka Home Minister said “Karnataka government will slap cases against those creating an artificial shortage of injectable drugs.”