Remdesivir output to be ramped up as Covid-19 cases rise sharply

Zydus had recently also slashed prices of its remdesivir brand Remdac to Rs 899 per dose


Coronavirus | Indian pharma companies | Indian companies

Sohini Das  | 

Drug majors are stepping on the gas to produce more doses of key antiviral drug remdesivir as India witnesses a new peak in daily Covid-19 cases.

At least four companies — Hetero, Cadila Healthcare (Zydus Cadila), Mylan, and Cipla — confirmed to Busin­ess Standard that they are working to raise production of this drug soon.

Pankaj Patel, chairman of Zydus Cadila, said they were planning to double their production of remdesivir from 30,000 vials daily. “In the next few weeks, we will double the current production. We are making 30,000 vials daily now. The demand for the drug is on the rise and we are doing our best to ensure there is no supply shortage,” Patel said.

Zydus had recently also slashed prices of its remdesivir brand Remdac to Rs 899 per dose. A patient typically needs six doses for a full course.

Mumbai-based Cipla, too, is working on ensuring there is no demand-supply mismatch. Kedar Upadhye, glo­bal chief financial officer of Cipla, said “We are optimising as much as possible and as of now, most of the orders are being serviced.”

Hyderabad-headquartered Hetero, one of the first firms to launch remdesivir in India, is also working to ramp up capacities and has been shipping vials daily so far. Bengaluru-based Mylan is collaborating with the government as it ramps up supplies. “We are partnering with the government and working rapidly to ramp up supplies,” said a company spokesperson.

According to industry sources, the drug shortage happened as manufacturers had cut down production after the demand fell. Since their launches (around July last year), remdesivir had sold medicines worth Rs 510 crore as of January 2021 (cumulatively). However, sales started to slip soon after.

According to the data from market research firm AIOCD AWACS, remdesivir recorded monthly sales of Rs 124 crore in November last year.

The sales had fallen to Rs 41 crore in January. After cases started rising, the Centre and states sprung into action. The Department of Pharma­ceuti­cals as well the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Auth­ority (NPPA) started to take stock from states on any shortage of the drug.

Recently, Maharashtra has procured over 40,000 vials already. However, the state government has hinted at a shortage or a delay in supplies. The daily demand in the state has touched 10,000 vials or so. On an average, the supply is around 6,000 vials per day.

Maharashtra Health Mi­nister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said they were also thinking of capping the prices at Rs 1,100 per vial.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor