Amid the sharp surge in Remdesivir demand across the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on April 20 that the antiviral medication is "not a life-saving drug".
The top medical advisory body called for "safe and rational" usage of Remdesivir, stressing that it has been granted emergency use authorisation only as an "experimental investigational drug", News18 reported. It should be administered only in selected clinical condition of COVID-19, it said.
The evidence so far suggests that Remdesivir reduces the duration of hospital stay, the ICMR reportedly said, adding that it "should be administered in hospital setting only".
"Unnecessary/irrational use of Remdesivir could be harmful," the channel quoted the medical research body as stating.
"Remdesivir is advised for hospitalised patients who are moderately sick and receiving oxygen. It is to be given for a total period of five days only and within the 10 days of illness," it further added.
Also read: Remdesivir not a magic bullet, no use if administered to asymptomatic patients: AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria
A day earlier, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) chief Dr Randeep Guleria also called for similar restraint in the usage of Remdesivir.
"It's important to understand that Remdesivir is not a magic bullet and isn't a drug that decreases mortality. We may use it as we don't have an anti-viral drug," he said.
Remdesivir should only be given to patients who are hospitalised, had a fall in oxygen saturation and have infiltrates on the chest X-ray or CT-scan, the AIIMS chief explained.
The demand for the drug has shot up since India was hit by the second wave of the pandemic. States with high caseload have urged the Centre to expedite the supply. Maharashtra, the worst-affected, requires 40,000-50,000 Remdesivir vials a day, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on April 13.