India has started importing the vital drug Remdesivir from other countries to ease out the shortage in the country, with the first consignment of 75,000 vials reaching India today. HLL Lifecare Ltd, a government of India owned company, has ordered 4,50,000 vials of Remdesivir from US-based Gilead Sciences Inc and Egyptian pharma major Eva Pharma.
Gilead will dispatch 75,000 to 1,00,00 vials in the next one or two days. Further, 100,000 will also be supplied before or by May 15, the government statement said. EVA Pharma will supply 10,000 vials initially, followed by 50,000 every 15 days or till July. As India faces severe shortage of Remdesivir, which is a critical injection for Covid-19 patients, the government is trying to ramp up the domestic production capacity as well.
As on April 27, the production capacity of the 7 licenced 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). The daily supply has gone up from 67,900 vials on 11th April to 2.09 lakh vials on 28th April," the government statement said.
Notably, the Centre has prohibited the export of Remdesivir to enhance its availability in India. To ensure affordability of the injection among the masses, NPPA on April 17 released the revised maximum retail price, thus bringing down the cost of all the major brands to below Rs 3,500 per vial. To facilitate higher production and availability, the Centre has also exempted customs duty on Remdesivir injection, its API and beta cyclodextrin used in its manufacturing till October 31.
As cases continue to rise with an unprecedented pace, India is facing shortage of key medications, oxygen, other equipment and testing kits. Several countries, including the US, UK, EU countries and neighbouring nations, have extended support in terms of medical supplies, relief measures and other equipment.
India reported 3,86,452 new COVID-19 cases, 3,498 deaths and 2,97,540 discharges in the last 24 hours, shows the health ministry data.