New Delhi: Amid the second Covid-19 wave across the country, the Narendra Modi government has asked states and union territories to ensure availability of remdesivir and prevent its hoarding and black marketing, ThePrint has learnt.
Remdesivir is one of the most sought-after experimental drugs for the treatment of Covid patients and part of the country’s treatment protocol.
In a letter sent to states and UTs on 7 April, the country’s apex drug regulator, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) V.G Somani sought initiation of prompt action over the reported shortage of the drug and malpractices over its sale.
The move is driven by reports of shortage of the drug in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra, which may trigger hoarding and black-marketing.
“It has been brought to the notice of the Ministry of Health and Family welfare that the states of Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior), Gujarat (Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot) and Maharashtra” — in Mumbai, Thane and Amaravati — “are reporting a shortage of Remdesivir Injection”, said the letter, accessed by ThePrint. “This may lead to hoarding and black marketing.”
Expressing concern, Somani wrote, “You are requested to initiate immediate remedial action to ensure supply of Remdesivir injection to public and private hospitals in the above-mentioned states as well as in other states.”
He also asked the states and UTs to “instruct” their enforcement staff to continuously monitor the situation and “keep strict vigil so that any incidence of black-marketing and over-charging of the drugs is prevented”.
“Action taken in the matter may please be intimated to this office at the earliest,” said the letter marked to zonal and sub-zonal drug regulators apart from the chairman of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) — the watchdog to monitor drug availability and pricing across India.
Reports of shortage
Last week, the Department of Pharmaceuticals, which works under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, and the NPPA started a drive to check available stocks in states struggling with a higher Covid burden.
The largest lobby of drug distributors and chemists in India, the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), also claimed that states are facing a shortage.
Lobby now tells its members to serve needy patients
Following the DCGI letter, AIOCD has informed its 9.40 lakh members (chemists and druggists) to not hoard stock “under any condition”.
“Since the situation is very critical and because of shortages our fraternity is getting blamed… Make medicines available for all needy patients,” said the 9 April letter by J.S. Shinde, president, and Rajiv Singhal, general secretary, AIOCD.