Shortage of Remdesivir in Pune district, no crisis of oxygen in hospitals: FDA


The Food and Drugs Administration on Friday said there was a shortage of Remdesivir injections in Pune though there was no crisis of oxygen in hospitals.

FDA joint commissioner S B Patil told The Indian Express that shortage of the life-saving drugs is largely because of a considerable rise since January. “In January, there was a demand for 700 vials every day from hospitals. This has now gone up more than 20 times every day,” Patil said.

Other senior FDA officials, who look after the daily stock of Remdesivir, said there are three to four suppliers of the drug to Pune district. “Two of them are based in Gujarat and one is Goa. We get Remdesir vial daily from them. Of the total vials, 14 per cent is reserved for Pune while rest go to other areas in Maharashtra,” officials said.

Currently, FDA officials said every day they were getting 7,000 to 9,000 vials of Remdesivir at Phursungi depot. “But the demand from hospitals is for more than 15,000 vials. The demand has increased considerably,” officials said.

FDA officials also attributed the shortage to “irrational” use of the drug. “According to ICMR guidelines, Remdesivir injections should be given to moderate patients. However, doctors are prescribing to every other patient. Doctors are making families run from pillars to post to get the vials. The irrational use of Remdesivir is leading to its shortage,” an FDA official said.

Prof Pravin Soni, head of COVID-19 section at PCMC-run YCM Hospital, said, “Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug. We do not give it to patients who are stable and whose oxygen level is above 95 per cent. We prefer giving Remedesivir to those who blood oxygen level had started dipping or going below 93 or 92 per cent.” Prof Soni said it is true that some doctors are prescribing Remdesivir to even stable patients, which is against ICMR guidelines.

Dr Shrikrishna Joshi, spokesperson, Lokmanya Hospital, said, “Remdesivir is beneficial for moderately ill patients. According to the government guidelines, it should not be used routinely and is given along with steroids. Both work well in combination.”

Meanwhile, Patil said there was no shortage of oxygen required by hospitals in Pune though the patients on oxygen have increased considerably. “We get 383 metric tonne oxygen every day but the demand is around 275 metric tonne. Besides, we also provide oxygen of around 25-30 metric tonne to other districts in Pune division,” he said.

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