The Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday started selling Remdesivir, the anti viral drug used in treating Covid-19 patiemts, directly to private hospitals. Chief Minister MK Stalin distributed the first batch containing 960 vials to 25 hospitals at a sale counter which was set up at Nehru Stadium in Chennai.
The development came after private hospitals asked the relatives of the patients to get the drug directly. The drug was being sold in the black market at Rs 40,000 per vial and this led to a rethinking among the policy makers in the government, after which the government decided to directly supply the medicine to the private hospitals. Now private hospitals are not allowed to ask the relatives of patients to buy the drug from the market.
A total of 343 private hospitals have registered on the portal (tnmsc.tn.gov.in) which was launched by the state health department to sell the drug, out of which 51 of these hospitals have registered for Remdesivir drug by submitting required documents (patients' medical records and ID proofs).
The Tamil Nadu Health Department in a statement said that after verification, a representative of these hospitals can collect the drug from the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation (TNMSC) counters set up at Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Salem, Trichy and Tirunelveli.
The move will address the issue of overcrowding to buy Remdesivir vials, as doctors were asking patients' caregivers to directly procure the drug as there was a shortage in the private sector. Hundreds of people thronged the Nehru stadium in Chennai everyday to buy Remdesivir, which was being sold for Rs 9,400 for six vials. Earlier, Remsedivir was being sold from two counters at the Kilpauk Medical College hospital where patient caregivers waited for days to get a token to enter the campus and buy the drug.
Several studies have pointed out that Remdesivir is not a life-saving drug. Its effectiveness in treating COVID-19 patients is also contested. While the World Health Organisation recommends against the use of Remdesivir for COVID-19 patients, India has not yet dropped the drug from its COVID-19 treatment protocol.