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NPPA is readying mechanism to ease COVID-19 vaccine supply, prevent unethical practices

The government is in talks with experts and stakeholders to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines, bring down their costs and smoothen supply chain, reveal sources

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With an aim to avoid any unethical marketing practices related to the supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the country, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has created a dashboard which will have the helpline numbers of concerned manufacturers to ensure proper distribution of vaccines.

A source close to the development informed that the authority has created the infrastructure, however, the helpline numbers will be given only after the manufacturers get the required regulatory approvals. The objective is to avoid as well as prevent any unethical marketing practices of COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

The source also informed that the Russian research institute has already submitted comprehensive data on the Russian vaccine Sputnik’s safety and efficacy to the Indian authorities for data analysis. While subject experts are reviewing the submitted study analysis report of Sputnik, the government is brainstorming to ensure affordability as well as the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

If the Russian vaccine clears all the safety and regulatory compliance in India then in principle the government is ready with the infrastructure and has strengthened the distribution channels to protect patients from price exploitation, divulged the source.

He also updated that the government, with an aim to bring down the cost of the vaccine, has talks with the Russian manufacturer to manufacture from India for the country and also supply to the World, since it will bring down the vaccine’s manufacturing cost significantly and with India’s huge production capacities it can cater to the global demand.

Reportedly, the government has also initiated a move to identify vulnerable groups who need COVID-19 vaccine on priority. It is likely that frontline healthcare workers, a group of high-risk people, military personnel etc., will be given the priority for the COVID-19 vaccine. There are also plans to make it available to them for free of cost.

Commenting on the industry’s preparedness in ensuring accessibility and affordability of medicines and COVID-19 vaccines in the country, Dr Viranchi Shah, National Vice President, IDMA said, “We are working closely with the government authorities and our aim is to establish a mechanism, which will have transparency in the supply chain of COVID-19 vaccine, whenever launched, so that medicines and vaccines would be available to the patients at the right prices and from correct sources, to the patients. We have demonstrated our capabilities to the world of our ability to manufacture and supply medicines and vaccines to meet the demand not only for our country but also for the world.”

NPPA’s initiated move is based on the assessment of reported black marketing activities of remdesivir and tocilizumab medicines which are essential for the treatment of COVID-19 infections. It has also created a dashboard where helpline numbers of manufacturers of remdesivir and tocilizumab are displayed for the patients’ help.

It is also likely that the government officials will have a coordination meeting between vaccine manufacturers and AIOCD to smoothen the supply chain and ensure the availability of vaccines to every Indian.

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