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.