India to import 450,000 Remdesivir vials, first consignment to reach today: Govt
The Centre said on Friday India has started importing Remdesivir from other countries and that the first consignment of 75,000 vials will reach later in the day as the country battles ease out the shortage of the critical antiviral drug with surging cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). “HLL Lifecare Ltd, a government of India owned company, has ordered 4,50,000 vials of Remdesivir from M/s Gilead Sciences Inc USA. and Egyptian Pharma Company, M/s Eva Pharma. It is expected that Gilead Sciences Inc. USA will dispatch 75,000 to 1,00,00 vials in the next one or two days. Further one hundred thousand quantities will also be supplied before or by May 15. EVA pharma will supply approximately 10,000 vials initially followed by 50,000 vials every 15 days or till July,” the Union ministry of chemicals and fertilisers said in a statement.
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The ministry’s statement comes on a day India recorded another 386,452 new infections in the past 24 hours—in another global record—and 3498 fatalities which pushed the country’s tally to more than 18.7 million and the death toll to 208,330 since the pandemic began, second only to the United States. Distraught people are flooding social media and messaging apps with heartbreaking pleas for oxygen, medicines and room in intensive care units as they have been struggling to find hospital beds.
The ministry of chemical and fertilizer also said that the government has ramped up the production capacity of Remdesivir in the country. “As on 27.04.21, the production capacity of the seven licensed domestic manufacturers increased from 38 lakh vials per month to 1.03 crore vials per month. Total 13.73 lakh vials have been supplied across the country by the Drug companies in the last seven days (21-28 April, 2021). The daily supply has gone up from 67,900 vials on 11th April to 2.09 lakh vials on 28th April, 2021. An advisory was issued by MHA (the ministry of home affairs) to states and UTs to facilitate smooth movement of Remdesivir supplies,” it said.
The government also banned the export of Remdesivir to enhance its availability in India and released the revised maximum retail price thus bringing down the cost of all the major brands to below ₹3500 per vial “to ensure affordability of the injection among the masses, NPPA on April 17, 2021.”
In order to facilitate higher production and availability of Remdesivir, the department of revenue has also exempted customs duty on Remdesivir injection, its API and Beta cyclodextrin used in manufacture of Remdesivir, till October 31. “National Treatment Protocol was updated through the Clinical guidance for Management of Adult COVID 19 patients by AIIMS/ ICMR- COVID-19 National Task Force/ Joint Monitoring group of MoHFW on 22.04.2021. The updated protocol will encourage Judicious use of Drugs and is expected to contribute to rationalising demand,” the statement added.
Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters Thursday that more than 40 countries have committed to sending vital medical aid, particularly oxygen supplies. The supplies from the US Britain, Russia, the UAE, Qatar, Australia and elsewhere include almost 550 oxygen-generating plants, more than 4,000 oxygen concentrators, 10,000 oxygen cylinders as well as 17 cryogenic tankers. Shringla also said that hundreds of thousands of doses of Covid-19 treatment drugs as well as raw materials to produce vaccines and remdesivir, were also being sent. "It is an unprecedented situation," Shringla said.
On Friday, the first US emergency aid to India arrived on Friday as Super Galaxy military transporter carrying more than 400 oxygen cylinders, other hospital equipment and nearly one million rapid coronavirus tests landed at New Delhi's international airport.