Monday, April 15, 2024

Drugmakers slash prices of covid-19 drug remdesivir

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Seven pharmaceutical companies which manufacture remdesivir in India have slashed the prices of the drug, given to patients with severe covid-19 in hospitals, by at least a fourth after the government urged them to do it.

The seven companies—Cadila Healthcare, Syngene International, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, Cipla, Viatris (which was earlier Mylan), Jubilant Generics and Hetero Healthcare—are contract manufacturers of the intravenous drug through a voluntary licensing agreement with its US-based innovator Gilead Sciences Inc.

The companies will now be selling the drug in the range of 899-3,490 per vial from the earlier price of 2,800-5,400 per vial.

Cadila Healthcare’s Remdac is the cheapest drug at 899 per vial. However, the company had cut its prices last month, before the government had intervened, to improve access to the drug.

The move comes along with the central government giving fast-tracked approvals for the companies earlier this week to manufacture the critical covid-19 drug remdesivir in India, allowing them to more than double their combined capacity to around 7.8 million vials per month.

Apart from the seven manufacturers, India’s largest drugmaker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries also manufacturers remdesivir through a partnership with Syngene International. Sun Pharma is also scaling up its capacity for the drug, which it also sells under Syngene’s brand ‘RemWin’.

Ramping up production and the price cut comes at a time when India is facing a sharp surge in covid-19 cases, which has left hospitals full in many parts of the country. On Friday, India added over 234,000 new cases, with Maharashtra alone adding nearly 64,000 confirmed patients, Uttar Pradesh over 27,000 and Delhi more than 19,000 cases.

The promoters of HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint, and Jubilant Generics, are closely related. There are, however, no promoter cross-holdings.

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