Amid concerns over effectiveness, govt ramping up Remdesivir production

Topics Remdesivir | ICMR

A man holds boxes of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug used to treat Covid-19 coronavirus symptoms, purchased from a government dispensary, in Chennai (Photo: PTI)
The Indian government, on Wednesday, claimed it has ramped up the production of Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug prescribed for treating moderate-to-critical Covid patients, by 10 times. From 1 million vials per month in April, the Centre claims it will produce 10 million vials this month, as it has increased the number of plants manufacturing Remdesivir from 20 to 60. 

Meanwhile, reports suggest that Remdesivir may soon be dropped from the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Covid treatment protocol, as experts have questioned its effectiveness in Covid treatment. The news comes just days after plasma therapy was dropped from ICMR’s Covid treatment protocol. 

The last few weeks saw a severe shortage of Remdesivir injections across the country, along with an acute shortage of hospital beds and oxygen cylinders, leading to a record rise in Covid fatalities. 

The Centre said it is monitoring the supply of drugs such as Remdesivir, Ivermectin and Favipiravir, essential for treating moderate to critical Covid patients. The Centre said it had ramped up production of these drugs and imported them in large quantities to ensure uninterrupted supply.

A couple of days ago, the Indian government said it had received 530,000 Remdesivir vials as foreign aid from various countries such as the US and France, to help combat the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The availability of these drugs is being monitored by implementing a three-pronged strategy of supply chain management, demand side management and affordability,” the Centre said in a statement. 

The drugs whose supply is being monitored include those in ICMR's Covid treatment protocol, such as Remdesivir, Enoxaparin, Dexamethasone and Ivermectin, and non-protocol drugs such as Favipiravir, Amphotericin and Apixaban. 

The Centre added that it will increase the production of Ivermectin, a Covid protocol drug, by five times, from 15 million 12 Mg tabs last month to 77 million this month. 

The government claimed that between 21 April to 16 May 2021, it distributed 5.37 million Remdesivir vials amongst all states and union territories. Maharashtra received the most, i.e. 1.15 million vials, followed by Karnataka at 575,000 vials and Uttar Pradesh at 495,000. The Centre distributes such medicines based on each state's and union territory's population size and their active Covid caseload. 

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