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Monday, April 12, 2021

India Covid-19: All you need to know about the life-saving drugs

With 7.7 lakh cases in total and over 2.5 lakh active cases, India is giving its best possible combat against the novel coronavirus. The worldwide race to find a vaccine to fight the virus is getting stiffer by the day. India is also playing its part in this race. The nation is trying every possible method to bring the situation under control. But till the vaccine comes, we have to depend on various life-saving drugs.

Right from Remdesivir to Tocilizumab, the demand for various life-saving Covid-19 drugs is rising in tandem with the number of new infections. So what are major Covid-19 drugs and what are their production statuses? Can all sections of people afford them?

Here are the five key points and latest developments from the Covid-19 drug front that you must know

1. India to be mega Remdesivir producer by this month

According to many reports, India will be a huge producer of Remdesivir by the end of this month. According to the figures provided by the Central Drugs and Standards Control Organization (CDSCO), India is eyeing to manufacture almost 20,000 vials of this promising Covid-19 drug by July end, reported ThePrint. At present, the drug is being manufactured by Cipla, Hetero Labs and Mylan. On Wednesday, Cipla launched the drug under its brand name Cipremi.

Remdesivir, the best therapeutic drug against Covid-19, was originally developed by American drug-maker Gilead. The drug is applied to patients as part of investigational therapy in moderate cases. However, it is not recommended for pregnant patients and those with kidney and liver ailments.

“Cipremi will be available via government and hospital channels only. Cipla will also be donating some amount of the drug as part of its efforts to support the community in this time of need,” Nikhil Chopra, CEO, India business head, Cipla, told ThePrint

Cipremi is priced at Rs 4,000 per 100 mg vial, the lowest-priced version of the Covid-19 treatment globally. A patient would typically need six vials of Cipremi for a five or six-day course.

2. Dexamethasone too will witness record demand

This is another drug that is equally emerging as a huge Covid-19 fighter. Dexamethasone is such a ray of hope in treating Covid-19-positive patients that the Indian government has already directed its manufacturers to ensure adequate production of it. Similar drugs of this category such as Enoxaparin and Methylprednisolone are being produced in large numbers in India. According to a report, India may need 33 lakh Dexamethasone pills by August 15.

According to experts, these drugs help reduce inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects and prevent the formation of blood clots induced the coronavirus. Zydus Cadila, Cipla, Sanofi and Sun Pharma produce these drugs. According to a report by The Hindu, Dexamethasone, especially good for patients on ventilator support, is an inexpensive steroid that retails for less than Rs 10.

3. Indomethacin could be a rescue drug, say experts

Indomethacin is an old drug in India. It is inexpensive too. It can address cough, lung infection and other such Covid-19-related ailments. According to Dr Rajan Ravichandran, a nephrologist in Chennai, early administration of Indomethacin in patients with mild to moderate infections can produce brilliant results. The drug helps prevent acute respiratory problems, a major symptom of Covid-19, and also hastens patients’ quick recovery. Indomethacin also reduces the viral load in patients and prevents coagulation and clotting of blood, the expert added in a report. A pack of 75mg  Indomethacin can be purchased as low as within Rs 100.

4. The famous Hydroxychloroquine & debate on it

This is the drug that grabbed headlines since the beginning of the Covid-19’s outbreak. Right US President hailing it as a “wonder drug” to World Health Organization changing its stance on its usage, HCQ has been through so many debates that almost everyone around us is familiar with the drug’s name. The anti-malaria drug manufactured by Bengal Chemical, an initiative of the Father of Indian Chemistry Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray, was being used as well as distributed by India since March.

India Covid-19 drugs
Despite much debate and doubts, India never stopped the usage of HCQ. Photo: Shutterstock

However, the process hit a roadblock as a Lancet study prompted WHO to declare that the drug’s usage must be reduced as it enhances the mortality rate among patients. Though the Lancet study sparks a lot of debate, India never stopped the drug’s usage, rather expanded it, says a report.

5. Govt faces drug shortage, black market challenges

Now let’s look at the darker side of the story. The black marketing of essential Covid-19 drugs is increasing every day, especially in states that are struggling the most to combat the crisis. According to a report by the Scroll.in a Chennai resident had to travel to Hyderabad to fetch tocilizumab for his father who’s admitted at a local hospital in critical condition. The local medicine vendor asked for Rs 1.5 lakh for the drug, while the Hyderabad-based store gave it for Rs 92,672. But this is just for a small dosage of the medicine and not the exact amount of the drug doctor had prescribed for the elderly patient.

Many patients and their family members are experiencing similar situations under the massive black marketeering of life-saving Covid-19 drugs, says a BBC report. Sometimes, a patient’s family has to procure the drugs from different vendors in different cities and at varied prices. Though the authorities of the manufacturers of these life-saving Covid-19 drugs such as Remdesivir or Tocilizumab claim that the medicines are available at government and hospital channels at the right price, endless hardships are what the patient parties experience in getting them.

There have been cries to make the life-saving Covid-19 drugs more affordable and put an end to the black market menace but both the issues are causing a harrowing time for both patients and their wards.

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