States allocated 34.5 lakh vials of Remdesivir so far: Union minister Sadananda Gowda
New Delhi, May 05: The government has allocated 34.5 lakh vials of antiviral drug remdesivir, used in the treatment of COVID-19, to states since April 21, Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sadananda Gowda said on Wednesday.
The minister, while chairing a meeting to review availability of drugs for COVID treatment and other essential drugs, noted that allocation of 16.5 lakh vials of remdesivir has been made to all states for the period between May 3 and May 9.
"Allocation to states is a dynamic process and efforts will be made to further enhance supply in the coming weeks," Gowda said in an official statement. Production capacity of antiviral drug remdesivir is being ramped up by the manufacturers and has increased to 1.03 crore vials per month from 38 lakh vials earlier, he added.
During the meeting, Gowda also stressed the need to continuously monitor availability of other essential medicines and to check instances of black marketing and hoarding. DCGI VG Somani, who also participated in the meeting, noted that state drug controllers have been instructed to make teams at state level for field inspections.
Strict action is being taken against hoarding and black-marketing of drugs, he added. "A number of preventive and enforcement actions have been taken by DCGI/SDCs to stop hoarding/ black marketing/ overcharging of Covid management drugs like Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Favipiravir, etc.
"By May 1, as many as 78 actions have been taken all over India, in coordination with SDCs, local police, FDA etc. for hoarding, overcharging, black marketing, and arrests were made/ cases were registered," Somany said.
Seizures of drugs, vehicles, empty vials (meant probably for making spurious drugs) and cash were made, he noted. In one case in Chandigarh, remdesivir vials to the tune of 3,000 units were recovered, Somany said. With a massive surge in COVID infections across the country, demand for remdesivir has gone up manifold.
The government has already waived customs duty on remdesivir, its raw materials and other components used to make the antiviral drug in order to help augment domestic availability and reduce the cost of the injection. On April 11, in view of increased demand for remdesivir, the Centre banned the export of the injection and its APIs till the situation improves.
Various drug companies have also cut the prices of remdesivir injection following intervention of the government.