Govt says all steps on for supply of Remdesivir, Tocilizumab

There’s a surge in demand for COVID-19 drugs Remdesivir and Tocilizumab

Updated - May 10, 2021 05:42 pm IST

Published - May 10, 2021 05:23 pm IST - NEW DELHI

People lined up in long queue to buy COVID-19 drug Remdesivir at Tirunelveli Medical College, Tamil Nadu on May 10, 2021.

People lined up in long queue to buy COVID-19 drug Remdesivir at Tirunelveli Medical College, Tamil Nadu on May 10, 2021.

The Union government informed the Supreme Court that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) have jointly undertaken the allocation of available supplies of COVID-19 drugs Remdesivir and Tocilizumab across the States and Union Territories in view of a surge in demand for them.

Also read: It’s a ‘different’ and ‘biggest’ COVID-19 vaccination drive, Centre tells SC

The Centre said the Health Ministry, with the support of the DoP and Ministry of External Affairs was “making all efforts to enhance availability of Remdesivir through ramping up of production and sourcing through imports”.

However, there were constraints on the availability of raw materials and other essential inputs for Remdesivir. Mere addition of production capacity may not lead to the desired outcomes of enhanced supplies. “It is difficult to predict the trend of the pandemic and, therefore, difficult to forecast the demand for Remdesivir with a reasonable degree of certainty. Therefore, it is communicated that the matter of sending the proposal for invocation of the provisions of Section 100 (for government use) of the Patents Act, 1970, is being processed,” the government stated.

The prices of Remdesivir have gone down by 25% to 50%, it noted. A total of 34.50 lakh vials were allocated for the period April 21 to May 9, against which 33.96 lakh vials were supplied till May 7, it noted.

Also read: News Analysis | SC has only acted on Centre’s suggestions and in consultation with it on COVID-19 crisis

Tocilizumab import

In the case of Tocilizumab, as the country was entirely dependent on imports, out of the limited stock of vials imported on April 26, 3,245 were allocated to States the next day and an additional allocation of 6,655 vials was done on April 30 to States. Another 1,200 vials have been kept for Central allocation by the Health Ministry, it pointed out.

“It is stated that about 6,478 vials have been supplied till May 7. Efforts are underway to procure, import more Tocilizumab,” it assured.

The DCGI (Drugs Controller General of India) has instructed State Drugs Controllers (SDCs) to conduct a special investigation drive to prevent hoarding/black marketing of Remdesivir. There would be zero tolerance to any kind of hoarding/ black marketing of drugs, it warned.

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