Due to huge Covid-19 caseloads brought about by the rapid second wave of infections, the drug has been in short supply in many Indian states
The Jharkhand government has approached some Bangladeshi pharmaceutical firms about importing remdesivir, an antiviral medication used to treat severe Covid-19 patients, Chief Minister Hemant Soren tweeted on Sunday.
He said the state government has sought the permission of India's central government for buying the drug from abroad.
With the increasing demand for #Remedisivir for critical patients in Jharkhand & its unavailability, we have reached out to to Pharma companies in Bangladesh for buying around 50,000 vials for emergency use. I have written to @DVSadanandGowda’ji for permission to import ASAP. pic.twitter.com/23XlxCp6gi— Hemant Soren (@HemantSorenJMM) April 18, 2021
In the letter sent to the India's cabinet minister for the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Soren wrote they had expected the second wave to be less virulent due to vaccination and herd immunity, but instead, a large percentage of patients are displaying significant symptoms.
He reported that as of April 17, there were 23,045 active cases and that Jharkhand had received 8,038 vials of the Covid-19 vaccine against a demand of 76,640.
"We have been able to get a quotation from Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Bangladesh for 50,000 vials of Demsivir IV Injection (remdesivir) at the total cost of one million dollars…," he wrote in the letter to DV Sadananda Gowda, minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers of India, adding the Jharkhand government was willing to procure it at the earliest.
"We have not received any formal enquiry yet. Someone contacted one of our executives and enquired about our export price,” Nazmul Hassan Papon, managing director of Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd, told The Daily Star.
"Since we are exporting remdesivir to different countries, he [the person contacted at Beximco] has given an indicative price. We also informed him [the person enquiring] that it will take some time to deliver since we do not have large quantities in stock.
"The entire thing was informal. Once we receive formal orders, we can actually comment. There are a lot of formalities involved in export. Plus, we will also have to see what quantities we can export and how long it will take. So far, everything is too preliminary to comment," Papon added.
Beximco Pharmaceuticals introduced the generic remdesivir for Covid-19 treatment in May last year. Experts say remdesivir has been found effective in cutting short the hospital stays of some serious Covid-19 patients.
Currently Eskayef (SK-F), Beacon, Incepta, Beximco, Healthcare and Square are producing the drug, which was first developed by US biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences.
Due to huge Covid-19 caseloads brought about by the rapid second wave of infections, the drug has been in short supply in many Indian states.
As India has been reporting over 200,000 daily Covid cases for the last few days, several states have reported shortages of hospital beds, medical oxygen and drugs, especially remdesivir.
Remdesivir was barred from export earlier this month by the Indian central government. The government issued an order prohibiting the export of remdesivir injection and remdesivir active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) until the country's pandemic situation has stabilized.