Deccan Chronicle

COVID-19 in Karnataka: Remdesivir being sold in black market as its demand skyrockets

Deccan Chronicle| Aksheev Thakur

Published on: July 31, 2020 | Updated on: July 31, 2020

At ACE Suhas Hospital, patients reportedly told doctors that they will get Remdesivir if the hospital fails to source the drug

Representational Image

Representational Image

Anticipating the hoarding and black marketing of antiviral drugs, the government had decided to supply Remdesivir through the government hospitals. However, private hospitals are now facing a shortage of the drug due to an astronomical jump in the demand, which has resulted in black marketing.

Dr Suriraju V, chief consultant, urology, and MD Regal Hospital, stated that black marketing has skyrocketed the prices of Remdisvir drug in Karnataka. He also said that a "one size fits all approach" will not be applicable in healthcare, adding that it is yet to be established that Remdisvir is effective among all the patients across the different age group.

"Remdisvir is a repurposed drug being used to treat COVID-19 for certain category of patients. There is a shortage as the Remdisvir is being procured by health care providers across the country. This has led to some hospitals having more stocks while some others not having even a single vial. In Karnataka, the government has decided to regulate the distribution of Remdisvir, which is a welcome move. I am sure it will rationalise the shortage and supply concerns," he said

At ACE Suhas Hospital, patients reportedly told doctors that they will get Remdesivir if the hospital fails to source the drug. However, the patients refused to divulge more details about the source of black marketing.

"Yes, it is still difficult to get stock of Remdisvir and we have been talking to the pharmaceutical company, however, there is a waiting time of a week or two. We hope that the government’s intervention will solve the problem of shortage of Remdisvir," Dr Jagadish Hiremath, CEO, ACE Suhas Hospital.

Dr Hiremath opined that the way forward to contain the virus is to have a robust mechanism of contact tracing and isolation of anyone who has symptoms, or has been in touch with COVID-19 patients.

Since last week, more than 150 recovered COVID-19 patients have come forward to donate plasma. With the inauguration of plasma banks in Bengaluru, the state government is now looking forward to helping other states too.

"Plasma therapy has shown encouraging results in clinical trial settings, especially in critical COVID-19 patients. 95 per cent of patients who recover well from COVID-19 can attempt to prevent the 5 per cent of deaths. In India, this will also help to decrease the burden on the hospitals. Faster recovery is expected to result in an earlier return to work and thus a lower socio-economic impact on families," Dr Vishal Rao, a part of COVID-19 consultative group, and Regional Director - Head and Neck Surgical Oncology, HCG Global, said.

Dr Rao said that convalescent plasma is safe with no side effects but added that the therapy has not been marketed properly. If it is packaged and sold like Remdesevir, it may get the necessary attention, Dr Rao said.

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