COVID-19: Indore witnesses shortage of remdesivir

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday said doctors should ensure “rational and judicious” use of anti-viral drug Remdesivir, underlining it is to be given only to serious COVID-19 patients in hospitals and is not to be used in home settings.

At a weekly press conference, NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul said, “Remdesivir is to be used only in those who require hospitalisation and are on oxygen support. That is the precondition. There is no question of its use in the home setting and for mild cases, and it is not to be procured from chemist shops.” 

Remdesivir is listed for use in serious COVID-19 patients in the Clinical Management Protocols for COVID-19 as an investigational therapy.

As the shortage of Remdesivir was reported in some areas, its export was banned and the medicine is available in plenty, Paul said, adding that “queuing outside chemist shops to procure Remdesivir is creating distortions”.

“We appeal to physicians to ensure rational, correct and judicious use of Remdesivir in hospitalised patients,” he said.

In view of a sudden spike in demand due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, India on Sunday banned the export of injection Remdesivir and Remdesivir Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) till the situation improves.

To ensure easy access of hospitals and patients to Remdesivir, all domestic manufactures of Remdesivir have also been advised to display on their website, details of their stockists/distributors to facilitate access to the drug, the Union Health Ministry had said.

 Drug inspectors and other officers have been directed to verify stocks and check their malpractices and also take other effective actions to curb hoarding and black marketing.

The State Health Secretaries will review this with the drug inspectors of the respective states and UTs, the ministry had said on Sunday.

The Centre has also advised the states that the extant  ‘National Clinical Management Protocol for COVID-19’, which is based on evidence, has been developed after many interactions by a committee of experts and is the guiding document for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

In the Protocol, Remdesivir is listed as an investigational therapy, i.e. where informed and shared decision-making is essential, besides taking note of contraindications mentioned in the detailed guidelines, the ministry said.

The states and UTs have been advised that these steps should again be communicated to all hospitals, both in the public and private sector, and compliance monitored.