Mumbai: Life-saving COVID-19 drugs will cost lesser now

Updated: Jul 12, 2020, 17:15 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

State to fix prices of Tocilizumab and Remdesevir; hospitals can directly procure drugs from vendors

Amid growing complaints of acute short supply of crucial medications like Tociluzumab and Remdesevir, which are being sold in the city at inflated prices, the state government has finally decided to intervene. On Saturday, the state government invited a tender that would fix the rates of three kinds of drugs needed for treatment of COVID-19 patients that will allow all private hospitals in Maharashtra to purchase them directly from the vendors.

Over the past few weeks, there have been complaints of Tocilizumab and Remdesevir being sold at arbitrary rates due to shortage of supply. In order to curb such activities, the Directorate of Medical Research floated a tender on Saturday to fix the prices for 20,000 vials of Tociluzumab, 60,000 vials of Remdesevir and 6.8 lakh tablets of Favipravir for patients in Maharashtra. "We have floated the tender and have invited bids from all manufacturers of the medication. They will have time till Tuesday to respond. After we fix the prices, we will share the details of the vendor and hospitals will directly be able to purchase the medication for their patients. There will no longer be the need to buy it from chemists," said Dr TP Lahane, director of DMER.

The idea was discussed during a meeting with CM Uddhav Thackeray, late on July 11. BMC chief Iqbal Chahal who was present at the meeting said that once the prices have been fixed, relatives of patients will no longer have to run around to look for the medication. "Such life-saving drugs should not be sold at chemist shops. There is a mismatch between the demand and supply of these medications. Through the tender, we'll know the competitive price and hospitals can purchase the drug through the patient ID to avoid misuse," said Chahal.

The BMC chief added that apart from private hospitals, details of the vendor selected after the tendering process will be shared with various collectors, as well as those who can purchase the supply for other government-run hospitals. He said that the quantity fixed in the tender should be sufficient for the next two months.

The civic body had recently purchased an order of Remdesevir and Tociluzumab for civic-run hospitals for critical patients. In order to ensure that none of the medicines are illegally sold to people outside, Chahal has issued instructions to all the 18 hospitals, including the state-run GT Hospital and St George Hospitals to update the use of every unit of medication used.

Based on the guidelines issued by Chahal on July 9, the medical superintendent of every hospital will have to update the details on a Google Drive file before 5 pm on a daily basis. The report will be submitted to the head office before 6 pm and a weekly report will be maintained by the head pharmacist of the hospital. "Details like ID of the patient, date of admission and number of vials given will have to be updated. If any discrepancy is found, there will be severe repercussions," he said.

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