Cipla also launched a dedicated 24x7 helpline and email channel to support patient access to these critical drugs exclusively during this pandemic outbreak.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
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 (email@example.com) 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.