Shortage of Remdesivir delaying treatment, keeping beds blocked

Bed availability impacted in some hospitals; drug supply likely to ease in a week

Updated - April 26, 2021 12:16 am IST

Published - April 26, 2021 12:15 am IST - HYDERABAD

Shortage of Remdesivir is having a direct impact on the availability of beds in some corporate and private hospitals. Since it has been taking two days or more for many people to lay their hands on the drug vials, treatment of COVID-19 patients is dragging, keeping them in hospitals for longer periods, said a senior government official. In such a scenario, beds are not unable to be freed up for new patients.

“If the drug is available immediately, then waiting time will be cut down. One can be discharged faster, making the bed available for the next patient,” said the official on condition of anonymity. It is expected that supply of the antiviral drug will ease by the end of the month.

Currently, a few small private hospitals with 50 or less beds are not admitting COVID-19 patients since they do not have access to Remdesivir. “If it is made available to those hospitals too, some more COVID patients can get treated there. That would also free up beds in major government and private hospitals and critical patients can be taken in. Supply of oxygen to these facilities will also help,” the official said.

Indiscriminate prescription of Remdesivir in several cases was also leading to its shortage, the official added. In fact, several doctors and officials have stated that the drug is prescribed to many patients who do not need it and that it is not a magic bullet to treat COVID-19.

On April 17, superintendent of Gandhi Hospital, M. Raja Rao said that Remdesivir should be given only in the first week to moderate and severe COVID-19 patients, and not to asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients.

Because of the shortage and indiscriminate use, the medicine is being sold for ₹20,000 to ₹30,000 a vial in the black market. Many, however, are unable to find the drug.

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