India will now be using a generic version of the Remdesivir drug that is administered intravenously. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved its use to be launched under brand name Desrem. It will be for restricted emergency use in Covid-19 patients. This drug is in high demand after the intravenously-administered medicine has shown excellent results in shortening hospital recovery times in a clinical trial.
It has also received conditional approval from the European Commission for use in severe COVID-19 patients.
Currently, there are two companies planning to provide this vial based drug in India- Mylan NV and Gilead. Mylan NV has confirmed the manufacturer of Remdesivir at its injectables facilities after it was given a sign off by DCGI. The drug has been approved in India for the treatment of suspected or laboratory confirmed severe incidences of COVID-19 in adults and children. Gilead on the other hand, is in licensed agreements with Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd, Syngene International Ltd and Zydus Cadila, listed as Cadila Healthcare Ltd, to make and sell Remdesivir.
According to Health Ministry, this extremely expensive drug will be used only on extreme cases that are on oxygen support. Under clinical trials, the drug is not recommended for pregnant or lactating mothers and children below the age of 12 years or for patients with severe renal impairment and a high level of liver enzymes.
Pricing of the drug varies but a comparative analysis shows the drug can cost anywhere between Rs. 4000-5000 per dose. While Gilead has tied up with Indian counterparts to help supply the drug, it has already promised the supply in large amounts to the United States. The drug has been exorbitantly priced at $2,340 per patient for wealthier nations. If maximum supply is send off to the US for the next three months, there are serious concerns over the availability elsewhere. India has been trying to organize its own indigenous form of vaccine and drugs to help early to moderate cases of Covid-19 patients. These will still be nominally priced but will not be available in open market without the doctor’s prescription.
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