With shortages of the COVID-19 drug, remdesivir, being reported in several states in India, the country’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) is calling on state regulators to “immediately initiate remedial action to ensure supply of remdesivir injection to public and private hospitals.”
Those steps include continuously monitoring the situation, preventing the hoarding or black marketing of the antiviral, and taking action against providers overcharging for the drug.
CDSCO noted that it has received reports from family members of patients being treated for COVID-19 of remdesivir being sold in parts of India for as much as 10 times the manufacturer’s reported price.
Developed by Gilead Sciences Inc., of Foster City, Calif., and marketed as Veklury in the U.S., remdesivir was licensed last year to two India-based companies, Hetero Labs Ltd. and Cipla Ltd. Both companies announced plans to launch their remdesivir generics for use in India at prices between $390 to $780 for a 10-day course, according to the U.S.-based Institute for Clinical and Economic Review. Under the terms of their nonexclusive agreements with Gilead, each company has the rights to supply remdesivir in 127 countries, including India.
The Drug Controller General of India approved the companies’ generics last June. When Hetero, of Hyderabad, India, launched its product, Covifor, in India, it said its facilities in India were prepared to manufacture enough remdesivir to meet the country’s current needs.
Mumbai-based Cipla, which is marketing its remdesivir generic as Cipremi, said it would manufacture the drug at its facilities and partnered sites and then supply it to the Indian government and open market channels to ensure “speedy and equitable distribution.”
As for Gilead, it said it anticipated meeting global demand for remdesivir by last October through licensing agreements and its own manufacturing, “even in the event of potential future surges of COVID-19.”