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Covid-19: Remdesivir production capacity increased to nearly 119 lakh vials per month, says govt

Remdesivir, which is manufactured in India under voluntary licenses granted by Gilead Life Sciences USA, was very scarce when the catastrophic wave of the pandemic hit the country.
By hindustantimes.com | Written by Deepali Sharma | Edited by Avik Roy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAY 17, 2021 04:48 PM IST
Additionally, the production of Remdesivir is boosted through the supplies of requisite raw materials and equipment from foreign countries. (HT Photo/Himanshu Vyas)

The domestic production capacity of Remdesivir, the essential drug used for the treatment of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has increased unprecedentedly from 38 lakh vials manufactured per month to manufacturing 119 lakh vials per month, the government said on Monday.

The patented drug, which is manufactured in India under voluntary licenses granted by Gilead Life Sciences USA, was very scarce when the catastrophic wave of the pandemic hit the country. The increased surge in the demand for the drug even led to its black marketing, hoarding and sale of fake vials of the medicine.

"To augment the domestic production capacity, all the seven domestic licensed manufacturers of Remdesivir were asked to ramp up production quickly. With combined efforts of the central government and the manufacturing companies, the production capacity of the licensed manufacturers has increased unprecedentedly from 38 lakh vials per month to nearly 119 lakh vials per month," the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers said in a statement.

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Additionally, the production is boosted through the supplies of requisite raw materials and equipment from foreign countries, with the help of the Union ministry of external affairs.

The ministry on Monday said with the accelerated approval. the number of manufacturing sites increased from 22 to 60. Exports of the medicine have been prohibited since April 11 and custom duty has also been exempted on Remdesivir injection, Remdesivir API and Beta Cyclodextrin (SBEBCD) used in the production of the drug since April 20, the ministry said.

The government also shared the data on the allocation of Remdesivir to states and Union territories across the country. Interim allocation of 11 lakh vials was made for 19 states and UTs with heavy demand on April 20 for the period up to April 30. With the increase in the availability of the supplies, this allocation was increased to 16 lakh vials on April 24 and all states and UTs were allocated the drug.

"In a series of allocations issued subsequently, with the latest allocation issued on May 16, 76 lakh vials in total have been allocated among States for a period up to May 23, 2021," the ministry said.

Seven pharmaceutical companies namely-Cipla, Dr Reddy’s Lab., Hetero, Jubilant Pharma, Mylan, Syngene and Zydus Cadila manufacture the drug in the country and all of them have been making supplies available to the states and UTs as per the allocation both through private distribution channels and against government's purchase order. A total of 54.15 lakh vials of the drug have been supplied across the nation by the companies from April 21 to May 15, according to the ministry. Meanwhile, a total of 5.26 lakh vials, which have been received as part of foreign aid and 40,000 vials that were imported commercially, have also been allocated to the states and UTs, as on May 16.

"State governments / UTs have been advised to place adequate purchase orders with the marketing companies immediately for the quantity that they want to purchase out of allocation for the State/ UT as per supply plan in close coordination with liaison officers of the companies. The coordination with private distribution channels in the state is also to be made by the states," the government said.

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The state governments have also been asked to monitor proper distribution within their jurisdiction and judicious use of the drug as advised by the AIIMS/ICMR Covid-19 National Task Force and Joint Monitoring Group of the health ministry. The governments have also been recommended to operate a mechanism for issuance of the drug to the needy patients and well advertise it publically for greater awareness.

The government also said that to monitor the supply needs the department of pharmaceuticals, through National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA), is in constant touch with nodal officers of the state and the liaison officers of the manufacturing companies.

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