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Exclusive | As India faces shortage of remdesivir, Cipla says its supplies will hit market in next 1-2 days

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Exclusive | As India faces shortage of remdesivir, Cipla says its supplies will hit market in next 1-2 days

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The first batch of Cipla's remdesivir has left the manufacturing plant of Sovereign Pharma -- the Daman-based company that has been contracted to produce finished dosages.

Pharma major Cipla is expected to launch its version of remdesivir in the next one to two days, the company told CNBC-TV18. The first batch of Cipla's remdesivir has left the manufacturing plant of Sovereign Pharma -- the Daman-based company that has been contracted to produce finished dosages.
Cipla has contracted the manufacturing of remdesivir to Mumbai-based BDR Pharma that also makes the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for the drug. BDR Pharma in turn has sub-contracted manufacturing of finished dosage and packaging to Sovereign Pharma. "We are attempting to launch remdesivir in the next 1-2 days. We cannot comment on the volumes just as yet, but there is a huge demand-supply gap in the market," Kedar Upadhyay, Cipla CFO told CNBC-TV18.
Gilead's patented drug remdesivir has been approved for emergency use in critical COVID-19 patients in India. Although the drug is still under clinical trials, it has shown evidence of reducing the viral load in critical COVID-19 patients.
While Sovereign Pharma did not disclose the volumes or number of vials that it has shipped, the company said that it has the capacity to scale up production to 95,000 vials per month. Sovereign Pharma's facility recently went through a meticulous inspection by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) and received necessary approvals for manufacturing the drug within a week.
Cipla will sell remdesivir under Cipremi brand name at an approximate price of Rs 4,000 per vial. Upadhyay revealed that the company was in advanced stages of setting up a remdesivir manufacture facility in-house.
The company's launch of Remdesivir will come as a relief to patients as the drug is seeing huge demand, which has led to a shortage across hospitals in the country.
As of now, Hetero Pharma is the only other company to have launched the drug at Rs 5,400 per vial and so far has supplied 20,000 vials in India, reports suggest.
The drug was approved as a "first line treatment for moderate to severe COVID-19 patients" and as the number of COVID-19 positive cases is on the rise in the country, there has been an increase in prescriptions for the drug, while supply has remained minimal. Reports of black marketing of the drug have claimed that patients end up paying anywhere between Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 per vial of Remdesivir. Each patient that has been prescribed the drug needs around six vials of dosage.
Meanwhile, Upadhyay told CNBC-TV18, "We are putting an algorithm in place to ration the supplies. This will ensure fairness in the distribution of remdesivir and will not encourage forward buying." He added that demand will outpace supplies for a few months until all manufacturers come on board.
Experts suggest that concentrated buying of any drug should be avoided to dissuade black marketing, particularly in times of a health emergency.
After DCGI gave approval to Cipla and Hetero to manufacture and sell remdesivir, Mylan Labs was given a similar approval.
Cipla, Hetero, Mylan, Jubilant, Zydus and Syngene are among some of the companies that have signed non-exclusive agreements with patent holder US-based Gilead Sciences to manufacture and sell remdesivir in 127 countries, including India.
Hetero had told CNBC-TV18 on June 22 that it aims to deliver 1 lakh doses over the next three to four weeks.
Currently, Hetero has received orders of providing 15,000 vials to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which has been partially met, according to the company. It has currently supplied 10,000 vials to the Tamil Nadu government that has placed an order for nearly 40,000 vials. Sources in Hetero have indicated that the next batch of remdesivir will be shipped in two-three days.
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