Market price

Remdesivir, vital drug for Covid-19, sells for ten times its market price as black markets take over

By | Chaitanya Marpakwar, Yogesh Naik and Lata Mishra


Controller General of Drugs of India demand enforcement agencies to crack down on illegal distribution channels.

A vial of Remdesivir sells on the black market for Rs 40,000, nearly ten times its market price of Rs 4,100, even as the state government strives to buy it wholesale and make it available in public hospitals and private.

So far, only BMC has placed an order for 15,000 vials and received the first batch of 5,900. However, this is far from sufficient. According to sources, Bangladeshi companies and some Indian manufacturers process nearly 50 prescriptions per day in the Mumbai metropolitan area alone (MMR).

While according to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), pharmaceutical companies can only sell Remdesivir to hospitals, sources say. hospital pharmacies buy the drug at around Rs 4,500-a-pop and sell it on the black market for up to Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 per vial to families desperate to Covid-19 the patients.

Last month, Health Minister Rajesh Tope announced that the state government would buy 10,000 vials of Remdesivir from a Bangladeshi company.

Later, Dr TP Lahane, who heads the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), said trials would begin with 3,000 vials at state-run medical schools across the state. The drug for the trials was to be provided free of charge by Indian manufacturers, meaning patients would not have to pay anything. However, neither the state government bought the drug, nor the trials started in medical schools.

On Tuesday, DCGI ordered its officials to monitor the sale and distribution of Remdesivir to prevent black marketing. In a letter to law enforcement agencies, the Comptroller General of Drugs of India, VG Somani, said his office had received “complaints about black marketing and overpricing[of Remdesivir by some people. unscrupulous ”and that“ the measures taken in this matter could be reported to this office. as soon as possible.”

Renowned pulmonologist Dr Jalil Parkar, who recovered from the Covid-19 infection and returned to work, said it had been a month since he heard of government intervention to make in the face of the acute shortage of Remdesivir. “But even now, patients are struggling to get the drug. Ten of my patients are in urgent need of Remdesivir. But I am helpless, ”he said, adding that as an attending physician it is my duty to organize the medication that a patient needs. “It’s painful to give a prescription to the patient’s family and ask them to pick it up. Where will they get it if I can’t? He asked.

Suraj Samat, who represents Bangladeshi supplier Eskayef Pharmaceuticals in India, said he was inundated with requests for Remdesivir every day. “We follow all DCGI import standards and rules. A patient is entitled to 11 vials according to the standards, ”Samat said.

Meanwhile, Cipla on Wednesday launched its generic version of Remdesivir, Cipremi. The company aims to supply more than 80,000 vials in the first month. Hetero Labs Ltd’s version is called Covifor, costs Rs 5,400 per vial, while Mylan’s drug is called Desrem.

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Additional City Commissioner (Health) Suresh Kakani said he has asked all doctors to enter each vial of Remdesivir used into Google Sheets so that we can track its usage. “All appointed IAS officers in BMC hospitals have also been ordered to monitor this. If the need arises, we will do an audit, ”he said.

A senior state government official, who declined to be identified, said the first batch of 100 vials arrived on Wednesday and an order for 5,000 more will be placed soon.

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