Maharashtra has placed orders for the procurement of life-saving experimental COVID-19 medicines, including Remdesivir and Tocilizumab, to halt black marketing of the drugs amid a steady rise of coronavirus cases. The state is facing an acute shortage of these medicines due to high demand. On Sunday, seven people were arrested for allegedly selling Remdesivir at Rs 30,000 per vial - which is several times the maximum retail price.
According to the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER), the Maharashtra government has placed orders worth Rs 20 crore for its state-run hospitals and all other government designated COVID-19 facilities. All these institutions will be able to buy the drugs from the government at reasonable rates.
The medical body said the state government has bought 60,000 vials of Remdesivir at Rs 3,392 each - the current market price is Rs 5,400 per vial. 20,000 vials of Tocilizumab, another life-saving drug, have been ordered at Rs 30,870 each - where current price is over Rs 40,000. Around 6,80,000 tablets of Favipiravir have been ordered at Rs 58 per tablet - the current price is close to Rs 80 per tablet.
Three companies - Cipla, Mylan Laboratories and Hetero Labs will be selling Remdesivir and Tocilizumab, while Glenmark Pharma will be selling Favipiravir.
Dr Lahane, head of DMER, Maharashtra said, "We have got these drugs at a very competitive rates. These are lowest prices in the country. And with this, we believe the black marketing of these drugs will be curbed."
The Maharashtra police are striving to stop the black marketing of the medicines.
"We understood that there are certain people selling Remdesivir, which is a life-saving drug and currently in high demand. They are into black marketing of these drugs and are selling them at prices 5 times the current MRP price," said Akbar Pathan, DCP, Crime Branch Mumbai.
Maharashtra is the worst hit state in the country and has a mortality rate of 3.8%, way higher than the national average - 2.5%.
On an average, Maharashtra is adding over 7,000 cases daily. The demand for these drugs is set to rise further.
According to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Maharashtra, with over 1.5 lakh active cases, needs 10,000 doses of life -saving injections per day.