In a huge relief for lakhs of coronavirus patients, pharma companies have slashed the price of antiviral drug remdesivir which was being sold in the black market at exorbitant rates amid heightened demand in the wake of surging Covid-19 cases.
Drug companies like Cadila Healthcare, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and Cipla have cut the prices of their respective brands of remdesivir injection (100 mg/vial). Many of the firms have slashed the price of the ‘life-saver’ drug by nearly 50 per cent.
A notification by the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers on Saturday said that on the intervention of the Government, major manufacturers/marketers of remdesivir injection have reported voluntary reduction in the Maximum Retail Price (MRP).
Tweeting about the same, Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Mansukh L Mandaviya said: “Due to the government’s intervention, the price of #Remdesivir Injection is now reduced! I am thankful to pharmaceutical companies for joining hands with the Government to fight against COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The announcement comes days after the Centre held a meeting with major manufacturers of the drug to discuss measures taken to increase production and supply and reduce prices of remdesivir.
On Wednesday, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers had said that the government has fast-tracked approval for additional sites to make the drug in the country, amid a shortage.
The approvals, coupled with an additional production capacity of around 30 lakh vials a month that has already been lined up, will help boost monthly production of the drug to nearly 80 lakh vials, it said. Manufacturers have also volunteered to reduce price of the drug to “less than Rs 3,500” by the end of this week, the ministry stated.
“Fast-track approval has been given for seven additional sites having the production capacity of 10 lakh vials/month to six manufacturers. Another 30 lakh vials/month production is lined up,” the ministry stated and added: “This would ramp up production capacity for manufacturing to around 78 lakh vials/month.”
In view of increased demand for the medicine due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, the Centre last Sunday prohibited the export of remdesivir injection and its active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) till the situation in the country improves.
On Tuesday, the Centre had also flagged “irrational use” of the drug, urging physicians to judiciously use it only on Covid patients on oxygen support.
The drug is in short supply as the country battles a second wave of infections. Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have reported a shortage of the anti-viral remdesivir.
Remdesivir is designed to obstruct the stage of replication, when the coronavirus creates copies of itself, followed endlessly by the copies creating copies of themselves.