‘50K vials of remdesivir ordered, tie-up with firm for tocilizumab’Updated: Jul 11, 2020 00:16 IST
Stocks of anti-viral drug remdesivir and immunosuppressive drug tocilizumab are likely to improve from next week, according to manufacturing companies and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Families of Covid-19 patients and doctors have said that generic brands of remdesivir and tocilizumab are in short supply in Mumbai. The drugs are being used to treat moderate to critical cases of Covid-19 and are only available in hospitals. One city doctor, who is conducting clinical trials of remdesivir for a manufacturing company, said he receives approximately 1,200 requests for the drug daily from distressed patients.
Bandra resident Salman Mujawar said, “Two of my uncles, who are senior citizens, have tested positive for the virus. On Wednesday, one was prescribed tocilizumab and the other remdesivir. Neither are available anywhere.”
There are two licensed dealers of the drugs in the city. Hetero Healthcare on Friday announced that it will distribute 60,000 units of the Covifor injection, which is its generic brand of remdesivir, across the country between July 13 and July 20.
Of these, 12,500 units will be distributed in Maharashtra. This is the second batch from the pharmaceutical company. Cipla, the other company permitted to manufacture the drug, started production of CIPEMI (remdesivir) on Monday.
Around 80,000 vials will be available within the first month, said Nikhil Chopra, executive vice president and chief executive officer (India, business), Cipla.
Chopra added that Cipla is also moving expeditiously to ensure supplies of tocilizumab.
BMC said it has placed an order for 50,000 vials of remdesivir for a month, and will increase the amount in case of greater demand. It has also tied up with a pharmaceutical company to procure tocilizumab, said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner (health).
However, doctors worry that the drugs may be needed in greater quantities. “These drugs are imported to India, although Indian pharmaceutical companies are doing their best to produce and launch internally,” said Dr Prashant Borade, head of the critical care unit of Global Hospitals, in Mumbai. “Several companies need to start producing these medicines in India to match the demand. Also, guidelines are needed regarding their use by the medical fraternity,” he said.
BMC, however, denies there has been any shortage in supply and said a revised system is in place to arrest any leakage of drugs. “We are using the drugs judiciously and there is enough till July 31,” said Kakani.
On Thursday, BMC directed deans of all civic-run hospitals and medical superintendents of peripheral hospitals to upload real-time information on the use of the drugs. “The hospital has to inform us about patient’s unique identification number, details and the number of vials administered to the patient. This will be cross-checked after the patient is discharged,” said Kakani.
On May 20, BMC had placed an order for 3,500 vials of tocilizumab, most of which has been delivered. It also ordered 15,000 vials of remdesivir, of which 5,000 have been delivered.