The Union government has stopped allocation of antiviral drug Remdesivir to states as the supply of the drug has surpassed the demand, Union Minister Mansukh L Mandaviya said on Saturday. "Now the country has enough #Remdesivir as the supply is much more than the demand. So we have decided to DISCONTINUE the Central Allocation of Remdesivir to States," Mandaviya said in a tweet.
The Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers noted that the supply of the drug, which is being used to treat COVID-19, has been ramped up over ten times from just 33,000 vials a day on April 11, 2021 to 3,50,000 vials per day currently. The government has also increased the number of plants producing Remdesivir from just 20 to 60 plants within a month, he added.
Besides, the Union government has decided to procure 50 lakh vials of Remdesivir to maintain it as a strategic stock for emergency requirements, Mandaviya said. "But I have also directed @nppa_india & @CDSCO_INDIA_INF to continuously monitor the availability of Remdesivir in the country," he noted. The Union government’s decision also comes at a time when several cases are seeing a drop in COVID-19 cases.
In order to improve supply, the government had earlier waived customs duty on Remdesivir, its raw materials and other components used in making the antiviral drug in order to help augment domestic availability and reduce the cost of the injection. On April 11, in view of increased demand for Remdesivir, the Union government banned the export of the injection and its active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) till the situation improves. Various drug companies have also cut the prices of Remdesivir injection following intervention of the government.
Earlier in May, several states reported shortage of Remdesivir with relatives of COVID-19 patients waiting in long queues for several hours for the drug. This despite several experts pointing out that it is not a miracle or life-saving drug. In fact, several studies including the World Health Organisation’s Solidarity Trial have shown that it is not effective in treating COVID-19 patients. Although the WHO recommends against the use of Remdesivir for COVID-19 patients, India has not yet dropped the drug from its COVID-19 treatment protocol.
With PTI inputs