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Government takes over allotment of critical COVID-19 drug Tocilizumab amid shortage

The drug went out of stock in the country a few weeks ago due to a sudden surge in demand because of a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.

April 28, 2021 / 08:51 PM IST
Tocilizumab is considered for patients with moderate disease and progressively increasing oxygen requirements.

Tocilizumab is considered for patients with moderate disease and progressively increasing oxygen requirements.

The Central government has stepped in to ensure smooth allocation of critical COVID-19 drug Tocilizumab to states. There is a severe shortage of Tocilizumab in the country at present. The allocation will be on an interim basis.

Tocilizumab is considered for patients with moderate disease and progressively increasing oxygen requirements. It is also used in mechanically ventilated patients who are not improving despite the use of steroids.

The drug, which has to be taken in two doses, is manufactured by Roche and imported and distributed by its partner Cipla in India. The drug costs about Rs 40,545 for a single injection.

The drug went out of stock in the country a few weeks ago due to a sudden surge in demand because of a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in the country this month. The shortages have led to a thriving black market where the drug was quoting more than Rs 1 lakh for a single injection.

"An interim allocation of this drug among states has been finlised jointly by the MoHFW (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) and the DoP (Department of Pharmaceuticals) in consultation with the company," the government said in a letter to states.

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As per interim allocation - Maharashtra got 800 vials, followed by Delhi that received 500 vials. Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Central Institutions got 200 each. Telangana and Haryana got 160, and Uttar Pradesh got 150. Karnataka and Rajasthan have got 100 each.

The allocated stocks have been sent to Cipla's depots in the respective states and are placed at the disposal of the states for allocation to government and private hospitals.

No separate allocation is being sent to private hospitals. The states are advised to ensure that the limited stocks are used judiciously and strictly as per the standard treatment protocol issued by the Joint Monitoring Group of MoHFW.

Cipla has also been directed to issue allocated stocks strictly as per the guidance of concerned state governments concerned. The allocation would be reviewed shortly.

Meanwhile, Roche on April 28 said it is working with external partners to increase Tocilizumab manufacturing capacity.
Viswanath Pilla is a business journalist with 14 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, Pilla covers pharma, healthcare and infrastructure sectors for Moneycontrol.
first published: Apr 28, 2021 08:49 pm

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