MUMBAI: Even as the
announced a slew of measures to improve access of Covid-19 therapy,
, major players including
and Dr Reddy’s are ramping up production, which could see a doubling of overall industry capacity over the next few months.
restarted production in March this year after a lull in demand over the December-February period when Covid-19 cases had reduced.
“We will be doubling our capacity gradually from the existing nearly four lakh units per month, to meet the additional demand”, an executive with a major player told TOI.
Antiviral drug, Remdesivir, being used extensively in Covid-19 treatment, is protected by a patent held by US company
, with seven domestic companies holding the manufacturing license. With the huge rise in Covid-19 infections, domestic companies have not been able to meet the soaring demand, leading to overcharging and black marketing of Remdesivir vials. The Centre decided to ban exports of Remdesivir vials and its active pharmaceutical ingredients till the Covid situation in the country improves. “We are closely partnering with the government to meet the patient needs in India and ensure access to this critical medicine’’, Rakesh Bamzai, president - India, Emerging Asia & Access Markets and Biosimilars -Emerging Markets, Viatris (formerly called Mylan) said.
The ramp up in capacity can’t be undertaken overnight since Remdesivir is injectable, with the manufacturing process being complex. The process involves `lyophilization’ or freeze drying, which is a complicated and expensive process. A minimum of 20 day-cycle for testing and production is required to produce a limited quantity of vials, a market player said. At present, industry's existing capacity per month is around 30 units, of which a substantial portion was being exported.