Pharmaceutial company Cipla has said that it has ramped up its capacity and that of its partner network to address the growing demand for antiviral drug Remdesivir used for patients hospitalised with COVID-19 disease on oxygen support.
"Our first batch of Remdesivir vials was supplied to hospitals and distributors across India, especially in the regions with high burden of COVID-19 cases. However given the spike in cases, the demand has increased manifold," the company said in a statement.
"We expect this demand-supply gap to normalised in the next few weeks," the statement added.
Cipla has partnered with BDR Pharma for API supplies and Sovereign Pharma for finished dosages. Sovereign Pharma told Moneycontrol earlier that it has capacity to up to 95,000 vials per month. Cipla launched Remdesivir under brand name Cipremi at Rs 4000 per vial. A patient would need five vials of the drug.
Along with Remdesivir, another drug Tocilizumab that Cipla markets under licensing pact with Swiss pharma company Roche is also seeing huge demand, and shortages in the market.
India has reported close 8.5 lakh cases, and 22,674 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. There are 3 lakh active cases, of which at least 20 percent need oxygen, or fit cases for receiving Remdesivir. The cases are rising by a little over 25,000 on a daily basis.
Currently there are not enough stocks available in the market, and the black market is thriving for both the drugs. The government jumped into action, and asked local drug regulators to take stringent action against anyone who is selling the drug in the black market.
To ensure equitable distribution and quick treatment remediation for patients, Cipla said that it is working with the regulatory authorities to restrict the supply of the drugs only to hospital channels and especially for those regions with a high burden of severe COVID-19 cases.
The company has made available a state-wise list of these hospitals on its website where the drug is available.
Cipla has also launched a dedicated 24x7 helpline (8657311088) and email channel (firstname.lastname@example.org) to support patient access to these critical drugs exclusively during this pandemic outbreak.
In case the call is unanswered, the number will be call back.
If patients face difficulty in connecting, they can email their requirement on email@example.com and Cipla's team will revert soon.
"Our support team will guide the patients, doctors, chemists etc, with the name and address of the authorised suppliers in their area," Cipla said.
Since its launch, Cipla said the helpline has been inundated with calls, even as it is scaling up capacity and responding to all queries.
"We understood this is a difficult time and it is our committment to all that each one of us at Cipla will do everything in our capacity to help alleviate this pain and suffering," Cipla said.
Hetero Healthcare and Mylan are two other companies that have approvals for Remdesivir. Hetero was the first to launch the drug. The company is also running an enquiry webpage
to facilitate patients in need of Remdesivir.