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Remdesivir supply surpasses demand; Centre to discontinue allocations to states

While the availability of the drug across the country will continue to be monitored, the Centre will create a stock of 50 lakh vials of Remdesivir for an emergency.
By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
PUBLISHED ON MAY 29, 2021 01:45 PM IST
Relatives of Covid-19 patients receive their allotted quota of Remdesivir injections, at Chief Medical and Health Officer's office in Jaipur, (Photo by Himanshu Vyas/ Hindustan Times)

The Centre on Saturday said as the production of Remdesivir has surpassed the demand, the Centre will now discontinue the central allocation of the anti-viral drug to states. The overall Covid-19 situation of the country has stabilised in the past few days and on Saturday, the country recorded 1.73 lakh fresh Covid-19 infection, the lowest in the last 45 days.

Union minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers Mansukh Mandaviya said Remdesivir production has been ramped up 10 times from 33,000 vials per day to 3.5 lakh vials per day between April 11 and May 29. Instead of 20 plants, now 60 plants are producing Remdesivir and all of this has contributed to the surplus production of the drug. While the availability of the drug across the country will continue to be monitored, the Centre will create a stock of 50 lakh vials of Remdesivir for an emergency.

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During the peak of the second wave of the pandemic in April, there was an acute shortage of Remdesivir across the country. The drug, which is only to be used in severe cases were hoarded, black-marketed which too contributed to the shortage.

To scale up the production and to meet the domestic requirement, the export of Remdesivir was also prohibited on April 11. From the third week of April, the Centre started allocating Remdesivir to states.

What is Remdesivir?

Remdesivir is a patented drug that was recommended as an investigational therapy drug given in acute and severe Covid-19. This drug is to be administered only to patients under oxygen support. Seven pharmaceutical companies, including Cipla, Dr Reddy’s Lab., Hetero, Jubilant Pharma, Mylan, Syngene and Zydus Cadila, manufacture Remdesivir in India under voluntary licences granted by Gilead Life Sciences USA, the company which holds the patent of Remdesivir.

Is Remdesivir life-saving?

As hoarding of Remdesivir led to its shortage to some extent, the Union health ministry reiterated that Remdesivir is not a magic bullet. Neither it has proved to be life-saving. "It is important to understand that Remdesivir is not a magic bullet and is not a drug that decreases mortality. We may use it due to lack of an antiviral drug and it is useless if given at an early state to asymptomatic individuals or to patients with mild symptoms. It is also ineffective if administered late,” AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria said earlier.

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