The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has sky-rocketed the demand for anti-viral drug Remdesivir. Multiple reports suggest a shortage of Remdesivir in several cities, including Indore and Pune where long queues were seen outside chemist shops for buying the drug.
While the Indian government has asked pharmaceutical companies to prioritise Remdesivir production, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials have blamed doctors for overprescribing the Remdesivir drug.
What's Remdesivir and how it is being used in COVID-19 cases?
Rremdesivir is an anti-viral drug that is administered via injection into the vein. It is only sold on prescriptions and not over-the-counter. In India, only a few companies — including Cadila, Cipla, Mylan, Hetero, Jubilant Lifesciences, and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories — are licensed to sell the drugs. The price of the drug is anywhere between Rs 4,500 and Rs 5,000 but recently the Maharashtra government asked the drug manufacturers to cap its price between Rs 1,100 and Rs 1,400 per dose.
Doctors in India use Remdesivir as a post-infection treatment for COVID-19. However, the Drug Controller General of India has approved only the emergency use of the drug.
What do experts say?
According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Remdesivir was found superior to placebo in shortening the time to COVID-19 recovery in adults who had ‘evidence of lower respiratory tract infection’.
In November last year, WHO recommended against the use of the drug for COVID-19 treatment. “The antiviral drug Remdesivir has not suggested for patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19, regardless of how severely ill they are, because there is currently no evidence that it improves survival or the need for ventilation,” read the official statement by World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Guideline Development Group.
According to ICMR guidelines, Remdesivir should be given to moderately ill patients and in cases where the blood oxygen level of a person starts falling below 93-92 percent.