As Covid-19 cases have seen a massive surge in India, the demand for Remdesivir, an antiviral drug, has also increased with many states facing a massive shortage. There have also been many reports of the drug being sold at exponentially high prices in black markets and cases of dealers hoarding the injection.
In an attempt to increase the availability of the drug in the country, the Centre on April 11, banned the export of the drug and many state governments have directed hospitals to administer the drug to only those suffering from a severe case of Covid-19 infection.
At the moment, seven Indian companies are producing Remdesivir under voluntary licensing agreement with M/s. Gilead Sciences, USA. They have an installed capacity to produce about 38.80 lakh units of the drug per month.
However, what’s noteworthy is that till date there’s no evidence to indicate that the drug helps cure coronavirus.
As of yet, there’s no study to prove that Remdesivir, which was originally developed to treat Hepatitis C and subsequently tested against Ebola, helps curtail mortality in Covid-19 patients.
WHO's Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan told India Today on Monday that findings from five clinical trials show that Remdesivir did not reduce the need for mechanical ventilation among those suffering from a severe case of Covid-19 infection and nor did it help curtail mortality.
This is consistent with previous WHO statements claiming that results from large-scale clinical trials on the use of Remdesivir on Covid-19 patients have been inconclusive. In fact, WHO had in November, 2020 issued a set of guidelines against the use of the drug for treating Covid-19.
However, according to a report published by Business Today, there have been reports of the drug working for some small subgroups.
“There are smaller studies that have shown, in some small subgroups, perhaps some marginal benefits, like some patients who need low flow oxygen, the NIH trial showed that there was perhaps a marginal mortality benefit but that is a very small subgroup of patients,” Business Today quoted Dr Swaminathan as saying.
It is also important to note that at the moment, results of many other large-scale studies are awaited including one being conducted by WHO which will help ascertain if Remdesivir has any positive impact on the treatment of Covid-19.
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