Why The BMC Is Paying More for Remdesivir Vials

The civic body says it paid more for Remdesivir due to the surge in COVID cases and an acute shortage of the drug.

Updated
COVID-19
2 min read
With an acute shortage of Remdesivir injections, BMC paid 2.5 times more for them.
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As the number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra and Mumbai continues to rise, the BMC has bought a stock of the life-saving Remdesivir injection at 2.5 times the price that was initially paid to the supplier. Earlier, on 7 April, the BMC made a bid to buy 2 lakh Remdesivir vials and found a bidder who was willing to supply them at Rs 1,568 per vial.

The civic body's chief and commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal admitted to having purchased it at a higher price since there was an acute shortage of the drug in the city. He said that the need to secure enough supply and stock up civic hospitals was a priority.

Suresh Kakani, Additional Commissioner (Health), BMC, said, "We had floated a tender and the rate at which it was purchased by us was not high. One bidder approached us with the price and we approved it. In this market and in such times, there are price wars and companies get competitive. We cannot afford to think about the cost when the cost of human lives lost is much higher."

The BMC, however, has not been able to respond to BJP's allegation that the state-run HBCL (Haffkine Biopharmaceutical Corporation Limited) bought the vials at a lesser price than the civic body. HBCL ordered 57,100 vials at Rs 665 per vial on 9 April. Maharashtra's current requirement is close to 50,000 vials a day.

Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner (health), BMC said, "The civic hospitals were severely stressed earlier and there was a shortage of beds, ICUs and even Remdesivir, but now the situation is getting better, it has shown that the upward trajectory is slowing down. We have purchased 2,00,000 more vials and we receive 50,000 every week. As far as government hospitals are concerned, there is no shortage of staff, oxygen or Remdesivir."

Remdesivir Prices Slashed, Pune Seeks Vials

After the state government intervened, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) ensured that pharmaceutical companies reduced the price to improve availability of Remdesivir injection, for better and faster treatment.

Prominent pharma giants such as Cipla, Cadila Healthcare and Dr Reddy's Laboratories have reduced the prices on the 100 mg/vial of the antiviral injection.

Rates have been slashed by Cadila Healthcare to Rs 899 from Rs 2,800, Syngene International’s rates are priced at Rs 2,450 from Rs 3,950, Dr Reddy's Laboratories’ is Rs 2,700 from Rs 5,400, and Cipla has priced it at Rs 3,000 from Rs 4,000. Mylan and Jubilant Generics too reduced the price of its Remdesivir brand.

However, Mumbai is not the only city reeling under the health emergency, Pune, too, has been recording many cases. The Pune divisional commissioner Saurabh Rao, who too tested positive last month wrote to Chahal asking to be provided with a stock of 20,000 vials for their city, only to get a response that there was not enough stock of the injection.

With just seven manufacturers across the country for Remdesivir and with each patient requiring six vials each, the production of the drug has been scaled up, as the number of people getting infected by the virus is rising.

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