Remdesivir treatment gaining popularity in India though black marketing and price cuts to continue, says GlobalData

Following the recent launch of Covifor (remdesivir) by Hetero in India, remdesivir has emerged as the most sought-after drug for the treatment of moderate to severe COVID-19 in the country. Amid the increasing demand, it has become a hot topic for discussions related to drug shortages, black marketing and price cuts. The trend is expected to continue for a while before normalcy is restored, says GlobalData, a leading data analytics and research company.

According to GlobalData COVID-19 dashboard, as of 20 July 2020, India has 1,077,781 confirmed cases and the dashboard forecasts 3,679,305 confirmed cases in a low transmission risk scenario by 30 July 2020.

Hetero is the first company to launch remdesivir in India at INR5,400 (US$72) per vial. However, the price cut trend was initiated with Mylan’s launch of Desrem at INR4,800 (US$64), followed by the launch of Cipla’s Cipremi at INR4,000 (US$53.4). Multiple Indian manufacturers such as Jubilant, Dr. Reddy’s, Zydus Cadila and BDR Pharmaceuticals are in the process of seeking approval for generic remdesivir in India. Following their regulatory approvals, we can see further drops in remdesivir’s prices.

Prashant Khadayate, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The trend of price cuts by the new entrants will continue as the market potential is high not only domestically but for exports to more than 100 countries. Companies are trying to focus on the volume opportunity so that they can leverage price-cuts. In addition, a majority of the orders are supplied to government organizations and pricing does play a key role in getting these orders.”

There are cases observed in India where remdesivir is being black marketed at a very high price to the extent of five to ten times the actual price due to demand and supply gaps. The government has adopted a stringent attitude towards such incidents. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has been asked by the Drug Controller General of India to remain vigilant towards the sale and black-marketing of remdesivir.

The Indian government looks to ensure that there are no gaps in the domestic remdesivir supply and demand to the furthest extent possible. According to figures compiled by the Central Drugs and Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO), India will be producing 20,000 vials per day by the end of July.

Khadayate concludes: “With government intervention along with an increase in the supply of remdesivir by manufacturers, black marketing can be curbed. However, this can only be halted completely when sufficient vials of remdesivir are made available for patients across India. An adequate supply will only possible by the end of July when the overall production level of remdesivir increases drastically in India.”

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