Keep stocks ready for third wave, government tells pharmaceutical firms
The Indian government has told top pharmaceutical companies in the country to start preparing for a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic and stock up key drugs in a span of the next two-three months. The move came after experts have warned that a third COVID-19 wave will soon hit India even as the country is struggling to contain the second wave.
The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) - the top regulator for drug makers in India - held a meeting in this regard on Tuesday. The meet was chaired by DoP secretary S Aparna. Bodies such as the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association, the Federation of Pharma Entrepreneurs, and the Bulk Drug Manufacturers Association represented Indian drug makers at the meeting.
In the meeting, the DoP reportedly told pharmaceutical companies to increase the production of the antiviral drug Remdesivir, which is being widely used to treat COVID-19 patients across India. They were also asked to boost the production of the antifungal drug Amphotericin B, used to treat cases of the Black fungus infection, that have seen a worrying rise across India in the recent weeks.
The government is also looking to discuss with patent holding companies such as Gilead if they can allow voluntary licensing of Remdesivir to Indian manufacturers for the time being, according to a report by ThePrint. Drug makers are now required to prepare a list of all key COVID-19 medicines and their manufacturers in India and submit it to the DoP.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies across India are now boosting their production of the Amphotericin B injection in view of the rising Black fungus cases, reports say. Considering there was minimal demand for the drug earlier, sources say it would take at least 15-30 days for the fresh produce to enter the market. India has reported hundreds of cases of the rare infection recently.
Black fungus or mucormycosis is caused by a group of moulds known as mucormycetes. Though these fungi are naturally present in the environment, they typically affect people who are on medication for certain health problems, which essentially weakens their immune system. Misuse of steroids among coronavirus patients, especially those who are diabetic, is a major cause behind the infection, doctors and experts have warned.
India has been hit hard by a dreadful second wave of the coronavirus. In the last 24 hours, the country registered 2.67 lakh fresh infections and 4,529 fatalities - its highest daily death toll in the pandemic. Daily cases in India had peaked at nearly 4,14,000 just a couple of weeks ago. Only 3% of the Indian population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.