The Maharashtra government in India is buying remdesivir, a drug that has been touted as a success in the battle against Covid-19, from a Bangladeshi pharmaceutical company since the Indian companies are not making it.
The state government is initially getting 3,000 vials and plans have been finalised to acquire 10,000 more vials, while it pushes the centre for clearances for the drug, reports NDTV.
Maharashtra will begin trials for remdesivir. The state's Covid-19 task force that comprises doctors who look into clinical management and reports to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had suggested its use to save lives, sources said.
The task force has asked the chief minister to find a way out of the bureaucratic hurdles to make the drug more accessible, according to the source.
Indian firms that have acquired patent licence from US pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences are still not manufacturing and marketing the drug in the country as they do not have clearances yet.
Maharashtra Minister Jitendra Ahwad has asked the centre for clearances for the drug. "From the beginning I consistently urged to DCGI and Central Health Ministry to give permission for Remedesivir Drug Y r u still holding on to permissions People are dying and this is as of now the best drug Plz save lives @drharshvardhan ji @drvgsomani ji," Mr Ahwad tweeted, tagging the Union Health Minister and the Drugs Controller General of India.
Maharashtra's death rate climbed marginally to 3.7 per cent on June 11 after Mumbai reported 97 deaths for two days in a row, leading to concerns over the death rate which the state government has so far managed to control.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope had said last week the state will procure 10,000 vials of remdesivir. He said that based on evidence from laboratory, animal and clinical studies, this drug has shown promising results in MERS-CoV and SARS, which are also caused by coronavirus.
"According to World Health Organisation this medicine can give us success against Covid19. The expensive medicine is being made available for poor and needy patients," Mr Tope had tweeted.
The state government's decision comes after a revision in the treatment protocol of COVID-19 patients by the Indian Council of Medical Research or ICMR. Remdesivir was already being administered in Mumbai on emergency and compassionate grounds, but that has limited its use to those who can afford it and left it out of the reach of many people due to the restrictive procurement process.
The drug is believed to be effective in patients who need oxygen. Singapore's Health Sciences Authority has given conditional approval.