Antiviral drug Remdesivir is to be administered only after a medical prescription and limited to severe condition of COVID-19 patients strictly as per medical protocol, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Friday.
A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud was informed that there is a growing demand from some quarters to permit the use of Remdesivir even when a person is taking treatment at his own home under his own private medical supervision.
"The argument in support of this demand is to the effect that permitting Remdesivir would lessen the stress upon hospitals and a patient can take treatment from his private physician at home. This argument, at first blush, appears to be an attractive argument.
"More particularly when Remdesivir is to be administered only upon a medical prescription and by a the qualified doctor attending to the patient at his residence...the use of Remdevisir must remain limited to severe condition COVID-19 patients strictly as per medical protocol," the Centre told the government in its affidavit.
It said that Remdesivir is listed as "investigational therapy" in the National Clinical Management Protocol: COVID-19 which is prepared by a team of eminent experts of the various fields.
As per the Clinical Management Protocol of Covid-19 prepared by a team of eminent experts in the field, it is only "moderate to severe cases" in which administration of Remdesivir can to be considered that too depending upon the clinical judgment of the treating doctor which, in turn, would depend upon several health parameters of each patient, Centre said.
It said that to keep a check on the pricing of the drug the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, on April 17, 2021, released the revised maximum retail price (MRP) for 100mg/Vial of Remdesivir, as communicated by the licensed manufacturers, bringing down the cost of all the major brands to below Rs 3,500 per vial to ensure affordability of the injection among the masses.
The bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, on April 22 took note of the pandemic situation due to sudden surge in COVID-19 cases as also in mortality and said it expected the Centre to come out with a "national plan" to deal with the distribution of essential services and supplies, including oxygen and drugs.
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