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Pharma firms initiate steps to curb black marketing of remedisivir

Measures include constant monitoring of the drug’s usage and ensuring its uninterrupted supply by working in collaboration with healthcare practitioners and regulators

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Pharma firms involved in the manufacturing and marketing of remedisivir in the country inform that they will be monitoring its supply in the market and have already initiated stringent procedures to fulfil this purpose.

A senior official from Hetero informed that over the last two or three days, the company has come across reports about black marketing of remdesivir and has already initiated a stringent mechanism to prevent unethical marketing practices related to the product. He said, “We have asked the hospitals to furnish the data of utilised vials on patients and we will update those details on the company’s website as well as submit them to the DCGI office. Besides, we have also written a letter to hospitals to ensure that such practices do not take place in the future.”

He continued, “From next week onwards there will strong supply of our product ‘Covifor’ in the market, but this time we are taking extra measures. The product will be delivered to those hospitals who have submitted details of the previous lot’s consumption along with patients’ details.”

“Till the time we get control on the situation, the company is also planning not to give/supply ‘Covifor’ to those hospitals who do not have dedicated intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the hospitals,” he added.

He also feels that enough supply of remdesivir in the market can minimise such practices to a certain extent. He seemed to be confident that with ‘Covifor’s strong supply in the market as well as the launch of Cipla’s ‘Cipremi’ and Mylan Laboratories’ ‘DESREM’, it will be possible to meet the demand and overcome short supply of the medicine.

Commenting on the measures Mylan Laboratories will be taking to prevent unethical marketing practices and guarantee an uninterrupted supply of ‘DESREM’ in the market, Rakesh Bamzai, President, India and Emerging Markets, Mylan said, “Mylan is governed by stringent regulations and is putting strict measures in place to ensure that access to the medicine is provided to patients in need. We are committed to doing business ethically and we will work closely with the regulatory authorities to ensure that the product is available to the patients in need and will monitor closely the situation relating to supplies.”

Bamzai informed, “Mylan has started manufacturing remdesivir in India at its US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certified injectables facility on a large scale, to support the demand within India as well as other licensed territories and will be making the product accessible to patients in India in July 2020.”

However, an industry expert informed that there is a rapid use of remdesivir injections despite knowing that it is only for ‘restricted emergency use’ and should be given for the treatment of patients with severe COVID-19 infection only. There is a need to monitor the use of this medicine on COVID-19 patients.

Sachin Taparia, Founder and Chairman, LocalCircles suggested, “The drug inspectors and legal metrology inspectors at district level should work hand in hand to ensure that no chemists and distributors are engaging in black marketing of remdesivir.”

He added, “The Government must build end-to-end traceability and ensure compliance from all manufacturers of remdesivir. The Aadhaar number of patients must be required for every vial supplied. Both these actions along with more manufacturers producing the drug will help in addressing black marketing.”

Dharmesh Shah, CMD, BDR too suggested, “Both manufacturers and government should work together to enable the availability of stock at each major COVID-19 hospitals, both public and private. This will ensure that patients don’t have to keep running around for medicines. The government should also create a helpline to assist patients and ensure that they get access to medicine at affordable prices.”

It has been noticed that approximately 50 per cent of the country doesn’t have access to remdesivir injections. States like Goa, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal have minimal stock or are in the process of getting the drug.

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