As some hospitals in Pune ran out of their stock of remdesivir injections, long queues were seen outside pharmacies, with relatives of Covid-affected critical patients making desperate attempts to procure the drug.
S B Patil, joint commissioner of Food and Drug Administration, Pune division, said they have received a stock of 17,750 remdesivir injections on Thursday, but he was not sure about availability on Friday.
Remdesivir is one of the most sought after experimental drugs for the treatment of Covid-19 patients and part of the country’s treatment protocol. Since the last two to three days, there has been a huge demand for the drug and according to the Chemists Assocation of Pune district, there has been a five-fold rise in demand.
Anil Belkar, secretary of Chemists Association of Pune district, said that previously there was a demand for 2,000-3,000 vials but now it has shot up to 20,000 vials.
Rohit Karpe, treasurer of Chemists Association, said that late on Thursday evening, they had received about 500 vials but the demand for the injections was much higher. “I am getting a call every second for Remdesivir… hopefully, the load will lessen in the next two to three days,” said Karpe.
Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 cases are rising in Pune district, with nearly 20,000 admitted to various hospitals while over 64,000 are in home isolation.
Dr Pradeep D’Costa, chief intensivist at KEM Hospital, said that when correctly used this recommended drug for moderate to severe patients has helped in treating the disease. The drug is administeredased on the inflammatory markers and CT severity score of the patient.
“There seems to be no stock left and with more than 180 Covid patients… some have received either one or two doses. The supply situation needs to ease up soon as this is deeply disturbing,” he said.
Dr H K Sale, sxecutive director of Noble Hospital, said they were waiting for their supply. “We have nearly 250 Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital and I am constantly in contact with the vendors who are engaged in supplying the injection. Authorities need to immediately resolve the problem,” he said.
For Mohit (name changed), whose 75-year-old uncle was detected with Covid-19 and admitted at a local hospital at Shivane, the last two days have been nightmarish as he was unable to get remdesivir till late on Thursday evening. “The queue outside Poona Hospital’s drug store was extremely long on Wednesday night. I stood no chance and when I returned at 7.30 a.m on Thursday, there were more people in the queue. I collected a token and will again go back to the drug store in the evening. Till then, a friend’s relative…. said they could give that one injection to the hospital,” Mohit said.
Dr Sanjay Patil, chairman of the Hospital Board of India, said it was a fact that the injection had yet to reach several hospitals. “Health Minister Rajesh Tope has assured that the situation will ease from Friday but till now, I have received more than two calls asking desperately for Remdesivir. Treating doctors have got good results and as numbers build up, there is a demand for this injection,” he said.
While there are seven manufacturers of remdesivir, the state gets it supply from Cipla, Zydus Healthcare and Hetero Healthcare. Sources close to the pharma companies said the supply is likely to stabilise by one week.
FDA officials, however, pointed out that 80 per cent Covid-19 patients are being prescribed Remdesivir and that’s why stocks are running out. “At this rate, it will get difficult to manage. From the stocks we have received, at least 30 per cent of the injections will be allocated for Pune district and the remaining will be sent to Satara, Solapur, Sangli, Dhule, Jalgaon and Ahmednagar,” said FDA joint commissioner Patil.