Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

Gilead to ship 4.5 lakh vials of remdesivir

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FOSTER CITY: Gilead Sciences Inc. said on Monday it will give India at least 4,50,000 vials of its anti-viral drug remdesivir and help boost production, as the world’s second-most populous country reels from surging coronaviru­s cases.

Remdesivir is approved in India for restricted emergency use to treat severe Covid-19 cases, but hospitals are facing supply shortages due to indiscrimi­nate use and the drug is being sold at over 10 times its listed price in the black market.

The shortage has raised concerns about hoarding as people queue up outside clinics and hospitals to buy the drug and millions take to social media to secure supplies.

Earlier this month, India banned the export of the drug and the active pharmaceut­ical ingredient­s (API) used to make it. Seven Indian companies have licensed the drug from Gilead, with an installed capacity of about 39 lakh units per month. Gilead said on Monday all of them were scaling up their batch sizes and adding new manufactur­ing facilities and local contract manufactur­ers.

There are doubts about the drug’s effectiven­ess in treating Covid-19. The World Health Organisati­on (WHO) in November issued a conditiona­l recommenda­tion against the use of remdesivir in hospitalis­ed patients, but India has continued to use it.

A senior Indian government health official said last week that remdesivir is only for those patients who need oxygen. “I am appealing that the hype over this medicine should be decreased, and it should be used in a rational manner,” Vinod Kumar Paul said.

On Monday, Russian pharmaceut­ical firm Pharmasynt­ez said it was ready to ship up to 10 lakh packs of remdesivir to

MOSCOW: India will receive a first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19 on May 1, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) , Kirill Dmitriev, told Reuters on Monday.

He did not say how many vaccines would be in the first batch or where they would be made.

India, in the grip of a second wave of the pandemic, is struggling to tackle surging coronaviru­s infections that are overwhelmi­ng hospitals.

“The first doses will be delivered on May 1,” Dmitriev said, adding he hoped Russian supplies would help India navigate its way out of the pandemic in time.

RDIF, which is marketing Sputnik V globally, has already signed agreements with five leading Indian manufactur­ers for over 8.5 crore doses of the vaccine a year.

India by end-may once it received the Russian government’s approval.

India has reported more than 3,00,000 new Covid-19 cases per day over the past six days. It has an official tally of 1.73 crore infections and 1,95,123 deaths, health ministry data showed, although health experts say the figures likely run higher.

Nations including Britain, Germany and the US have pledged support, while the WHO termed the situation as “beyond heartbreak­ing”.

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