The increase in the number of cases and shortage of Remdesivir has prompted the government to halt the export of the drug.

With the recent arguments that are going around the COVID-19, I can probably say that Remdesivir that unarguably become the most searched drug especially in the last 10 days after several states in India started facing the shortage of the anti-viral drug, Remdesivir. Amid the surge in fresh COVID-19 positive cases, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have flagged a shortage of this anti-viral drug. The increase in the number of cases and shortage of Remdesivir has prompted the government to halt the export of the drug and Remdesivir active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) till the COVID-19 situation improves in the country.

Role of Remdesivir in treatment of COVID-19:

Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug that has been used for years to treat Ebola and has resulted to speed up the recovery of certain coronavirus patients in a clinical trial held in the US.  Remdesivir works by attacking an enzyme that the virus needs to replicate inside human cells.

For a person infected with COVID-19, Remdesivir is considered a life-saving drug. While some doctors support the use of the drug, others opposed its rampant use. WHO has recommended against its use by saying that there is “no evidence that Remdesivir improves survival and other outcomes in the patients.”

While there is a difference in opinion about the usage of Remdesivir, India has approved the drug under the National Clinical Management Protocol for COVID-19. The protocol acts as the guiding document for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in India.

What led to the shortage of the drug?

India is witnessing an acute shortage of Remdesivir majorly because most companies cut the production from December to mid-March due to the drop in COVID cases. And now, since the numbers are increasing at a rapid rate again, it has become difficult for the companies to scale up their production because of lack of raw material available.

The supply and demand of the drug is slightly unbalanced as of now and therefore, the government has advised all domestic manufactures of Remdesivir such as Hetero Drugs, Zydus Cadila, Cipla and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories to display the details of their stockists and distributors on their website to facilitate access to the drug.

Another reason that led to the shortage of the drug is subsequently the second wave of COVID-19 in India which is yet to hit its peak. The continuous rise in the number of cases has led to the shortage of Remdesivir in private hospitals in some cities of different states because of the black marketing of the anti-viral drug. Therefore, drug inspectors and other officers have been directed to verify stocks and check malpractices and also to take other effective actions to curb hoarding and black marketing.

The sudden increase in the cases has fuelled the illegal market of the country. With no choice left, people are forced to buy the drug at an overly increased price for their relatives suffering from COVID-19.