Remdesivir is not a life-saving drug and its “unnecessary or irrational” use on Covid patients is unethical, the centre tweeted on Monday, amid massive demand for the medicine triggered by an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases across the country.
The Union Health Ministry said Remdesivir was an “experimental investigational drug” that had been granted emergency authorisation to be used only on moderately sick Covid patients on oxygen support under hospital settings.
“It must never be administered in home settings,” it warned.
It added that studies had shown the drug didn’t affect mortality rates.
— Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) April 19, 2021
Earlier today, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, a member of the national Covid task force, said the drug was “no magic bullet”.
“It is important to understand that it is no magic bullet and it does not reduce mortality. It is used because we do not have a good antiviral drug…Remdesivir was proven useful for those in hospitals and on oxygen…it can’t be taken like a regular antibiotic,” he said.
India, which is facing the rapid second wave of infections, today reported over 2 lakh coronavirus cases for the fifth straight day. Before that, it had been consistently reporting over a lakh daily cases.
Health infrastructures in several badly hit states are crumbling under pressure from the Covid caseloads. Severe shortages of hospital beds, medical oxygen and medicines – especially Remdesivir- have been reported across the country.
Social media is flooded with posts of the family members and friends of Covid patients requesting for help in acquiring the drug. Some reports suggest that the prices of Remdesivir have shot up on the black market.
Amid the reported demand-supply gap, the centre has banned export of the drug.
As of now, seven Indian companies are producing Remdesivir under voluntary licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences, US. They have a capacity of producing 38.80 lakh units per month.
The centre, however, has decided to ramp up production of the drug.
To ensure more people can get Remdesivir, the government last month said that manufacturers of Remdesivir had been asked to show on their website the details of their stockists and distributors.
Drug inspectors and other officers had been asked to verify stocks, check any malpractice and stop hoarding and black marketing, it added.