Staff Reporter :
A sudden shortage of life saving Remdesivir injection in local market along with its rampant over charging has miffed the citizens and health sector alike. Since last few days there is a common refrain that the injections are not available with any of the chemists even as District Collector Ravindra Thakare stepped-in to regulate it over the counter sale in pharmacies. In view of shortage owing to rampant use and mismatch in demand and supply, the situation of serious COVID-19 afflicted patients is worsening. Hospitals have sounded SoS to district administration that is grappling to tie-up loose ends and see to it that supply line of Remdesivir is injected with oxygen to overcome the shortage. But there are reports that someone willing to pay extra can get access to Remdesivir and same is being allegedly hoarded by some suppliers in market. Pushpahas Ballal, Assistant Commissioner, Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), talking to The Hitavada on Wednesday assured that in case someone is engaged in black marketing of Remdesivir then he is going to land in trouble one day or other as the administration is keeping a hawk’s eye on drug market in city.
The under hand sale of life saving injection cannot go on for long as we are definite to get tip about the same and hence FDA is going to ensure that supply and sale of injection matches. As to short supply he said there are many causes and our task is limited and till production is ramped up the mismatch in demand and supply would remain and this phenomena is not limited to city. Hence at present FDA is seeing to it that whatever the supply of Remdesivir the same is distributed across the city. The shelf life of Remdesivir injection is between three to six months and hence companies could not anticipate and ramp up production to stock up the injections unlike other medicine.
Hence the situation is going to improve in next few days as orders start arriving, Ballal stated further. For Charitable Hospital, however, the scarcity and also jacking-up of prices of Remdesivir by local chemists have created a very complicated situation as they struggle to cope with extra financial load in already bad times owing to slow down in economy. Said Govind Poddar, President, Shri Radhakrishna Hospital and Research Institute, East Wardhaman Nagar, for last five days the administration is not getting required supply of life saving injections. The hospital has 150 beds of which 108 are earmarked for COVID-19 and all wards are overflowing with patients, many of them require the injections or else doctors hands are tied. Explaining the jacking of prices, Poddar said he himself purchased Remdesivir about a week back at Rs. 900 and now the dealer is asking for a price of Rs. 2500 for same injection. For Charitable Hospitals like us it is very difficult to arrange such huge funds that to in time of crisis like this and hence administration should ensure adequate supplies.
Chemists cry foul on fiat limiting sale of injections to hospital pharmacies
Chemists in city are up in arms again the fiat of District Collector Ravindra Thakare about regulating the supply of Remdesivir injections to COVID-19 designated hospital and their attached pharmacies. Calling it injustice and partisan, the chemists said State Government is officially providing licence for fleecing the patients in time of crisis. Not wanting to come on record, the chemists said the latest order from District Collector Ravindra Thakare on Remdesivir is only going to worsen the situation as they themselves have not got any stock since last four to five days. The main objection of chemists is that Collector by knocking out chemists outside hospital set-up from sale of Remdesivir is limiting the competition.
In market chemists say they charge between 15 to 20 per cent on supply price from customer for Remdesivir. As against this in hospitals and their attached pharmacies the patients are being billed against Maximum Retail Price (MRP) printed on the injection vials. And moreover such sale on MRP is justified by law and given the fact that there is over 50 per cent margin for a dealer, hospitals are going in for a kill. About six to seven companies are licensed to produce Remdesivir and its price band is from Rs. 900 upto Rs. 5400 depending upon the brand. In market the dealers get the injection in range of Rs. 1900 to 3000 and they then add their commission and sale it at justified prices. One of the leading chemist said given the intense competition in medicine market no chemist, outside hospital set-up has so far over charged or black marketed the Remdesivir. But same cannot be said about hospital and the attached pharmacies as there is no mechanism in place to check the price manipulation.
Since in house pharmacies are also getting Remdesivir at same price as that of stand alone drug store there should be one common price tag and it the duty of district administration to ensure that citizens are not overcharged. But in reality there is daily complaints about inflated bills from hospital for treatment of novel corona virus positive patients. Sanjay Agrawal, President, Bhrastachar Virodhi Janman, claimed that some companies have printed price of Remdesivir at Rs 5,400 but in open market same is sold at Rs 1,500. But in name of restricted sale of the life saving injection district administration is putting citizen in trouble.
He said in past State Government had capped price of Remdesivir at Rs 2,360 but not a single hospital passed on the benefit to its patients who were admitted for COVID-19 treatment. Another chemist said in case he or anyone from his family needs Remdesivir then he would be totally dependent on in house pharmacy of hospital and have to pay the quoted MRP at which same is being openly sold. District administration can check bills of patients who were treated with Remdesivir in recent time and our claims of blatant exploitation by hospital and their in-house pharmacies would be corroborated, the chemists said in unison. Each of the company has four to five wholesalers of Remdesivir in city but all of them have one common reply that there is no stock of injection with them.