As Covid-19 Cases Rise in India, Cipla to Launch Own Version of Remdesivir in Next 1-2 Days
Multinational pharmaceutical company Cipla will launch its version of Covid-19 drug Remdesivir in the next 1-2 days, and begin supplying it to the market. In an exclusive interview with CNBC TV18, the major biotech firm said that Daman-based Sovereign Pharma had released the first batch of the drug, which Cipla will be selling under the brand name 'Cipremi'.
Cipla had contracted BDR Pharma for the manufacturing of remdesivir, which in turn sub-contracted manufacturing of finished dosage and packaging to Sovereign Pharma. Mumbai-based BDR Pharma also makes the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) for the drug, which has been approved for emergency use in severe Covid-19 patients in the country.
The drug, which is still under clinical trials, has shown evidence of reducing coronavirus infection in critical patients. Cipla CFO Kedar Upadhyay reportedly said that the company cannot comment on the volumes right now, but there is a huge gap in supply and demand in the market for the drug.
Though the volume of supply that has been shipped is not yet disclosed by Soverign Pharma, the company had said that it had the capacity to produce as many as 95,000 vials per month. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) had recently conducted an inspection at the facility and provided necessary approvals for manufacturing the drug within a week.
Cipla will sell the drug at a price of Rs 4,000 per vial (approx) and said that it was in the advanced stages of setting up an in-house remdesivir manufacturing facility.
It is the only company after Hetero Pharma to launch the drug, which comes as a huge relief to patients as the drug is in huge demand and there is an ongoing shortage across hospitals in the country.
Hetero Pharma launched remdesivir at a price of Rs 5,400 per vial and has reportedly supplied 20,000 vials in the country so far.
There has been an increase in prescriptions for the drug after it was approved as a "first line treatment for moderate to severe COVID-19 patients". Each prescribed patient needs around six vials of dosage of the drug, however, its supply remains minimal in the market. Reports claim that black marketing of the drug has led to patients paying upto Rs 40,000 for each vial of the drug.
Meanwhile, Upadhyay said that an algorithm was being put in place to ration the supplies of the drug and ensure fairness in its distribution so that forward buying is not encouraged. He also said that the drug's demand will outpace its supplies for a few months until all manufacturers come on board.
Hetero had earlier reportedly said that it aimed to deliver 1 lakh doses of remdesivir over the next three to four weeks.
After Cipla and Hetero were allowed to manufacture and sell remdesivir, DCGI gave a similar approval to Mylan Labs too. The companies have signed non-exclusive agreements with US-based Gilead Sciences to manufacture and sell the drug in 127 countries, including India.
Hetero has partially met the 15,000 vials order it received from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and has supplied 10,000 vials to the Tamil Nadu government that has ordered about 40,000 vials.