Karnataka’s private hospitals run out of Remdesivir

Private hospitals are reporting an acute shortage of Remdesivir, widely used to treat COVID-19 patients.

The shortage, mainly faced by small and medium-size hospitals, has prompted the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) to write to the State Health Department requesting that the injection be supplied through the Karnataka State Drugs Logistics and Warehousing Society.

Currently, the government supplies this drug to private hospitals only when patients are referred by the government through Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust (SAST). Each patient requires six doses of the 100 mg injection of which two are given on the first day followed by one dose for the next four days.

PHANA president Prasanna H.M. told The Hindu that he wrote to Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar and Additional Chief Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) Jawaid Akhtar in this regard on Saturday. While corporate hospitals have the drug, smaller hospitals that had not anticipated the sudden rush of patients are scrambling to procure the drug, he said. The drug that was last year given only to those with severe infection is now being given to all with COVID-19 pneumonia and high inflammatory markers.

R. Ravindra, Managing Director of Suguna Hospital and former PHANA president, said the problem started on April 1. “Last Saturday, we needed 116 doses for patients admitted in our hospital but we had only 30. Although the price of the drug bought in bulk ranges between ₹800 and ₹3,000 per injection, we are paying the MRP that varies between ₹1,400 and ₹ 5,400,” he said. Hospitals are facing a shortage of 12,000 to 15,000 injections per week in Bengaluru, he said.

Sabeel Nazir from Naasih Foundation, an NGO that helps provide free medicines for poor patients, said the problem is across the country as manufacturers had not expected a rapid surge in COVID-19. “On an average, I have been getting 60 calls daily, including from Maharashtra,” he said.

“Following the decline in cases last year, distributors had surplus stocks and had requested pharma companies to take them back. Distributors that I am in touch with said manufacturers have begun production, and it will take at least two weeks for the stocks to reach the market,” said Mr. Nazir.

Mr. Akhtar told PHANA to assess the demand based on which the department will come out with a solution. “I am told manufacturers have started production and it will take a few weeks for the situation to stabilise,” he said.


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