The Centre has decided to step out of the state-wise allocation of the antiviral drug Remdesivir used in Covid treatment after its production increased tenfold since April, the government said on Saturday.
To address shortages and prevent black-marketing of various drugs used in the treatment of Covid-19, the government had stepped in to allocate these to states as cases of the infection shot up in the second wave.
The production capacity has increased from a million doses a month to 10 million, according to Mansukh Mandaviya, minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers. The number of plants manufacturing the drug, the patent for which is held by Gilead Sciences, has increased from 20 to 60 in a month.
“Now the country has enough Remdesivir as the supply is much more than the demand,” the minister said in a release. The government has also decided to purchase five million vials and create a stock so that there is no shortage if cases surge again.
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When Covid-19 infections shot up in India in April, there was an acute shortage of the antiviral drug that is used by doctors for treating patients with moderate disease. At the time, Gilead Sciences donated 450,000 doses of the medicine while India was scaling up domestic production.
To be sure, the World Health Organisation recommended against the use of the medicine seeing no mortality or any other benefit in November last year. India continues to use the drug, which is part of its clinical management protocol as well.
“Initially, it was said to reduce the period of hospitalisation. However, since then several global studies have shown no benefit and many countries have stopped using the drug. In India, we do not have a large randomised control trial but clinicians have seen benefit of the medicine in their patients. So, there is no big centre in the country that is not using the drug in moderate to severe cases,” said Dr Rajesh Chawla, senior pulmonologist at Indraprastha Apollo hospital.
The government still controls allocation of other Covid-19 drugs such as Tocilizumab, which is not manufactured in India.