Cipla Ltd has priced its generic version of remdesivir, Cipremi, at Rs4,000 ($53.34) per 100mg vial, the Indian drugmaker said yesterday, making it among the lowest priced versions of the Covid-19 treatment available so far globally.
Cipla had earlier said pricing would not exceed Rs5,000.
On Tuesday, Sovereign Pharma, which is manufacturing and packaging the drug for Cipla, said it had dispatched the first batch.
Cipla India business chief executive officer and executive vice president Nikhil Chopra said in an e-mailed statement that the company was launching Cipremi commercially yesterday and aims to supply over 80,000 vials within the first month.
The drug will be available through the government and hospitals only, the company said.
Sources had said that the first batch of 10,000 vials had been printed with a price of Rs4,000, Rs800 below the cheapest option, launched by European competitor Mylan this week.
Privately held Hetero Labs Ltd’s version, Covifor, costs Rs5,400 per vial while Mylan prices Desrem at Rs4,800.
With coronavirus cases increasing, several more of the big India-based healthcare firms which make much of the world’s pharmaceuticals are expected to launch competing versions of remdesivir, the only major treatment so far approved for Covid-19.
Remdesivir’s developer, Gilead Sciences Inc, has priced the original version at $390 per 100mg vial for wealthier nations while signing licensing deals with generic producers to make the treatment widely available.
India is now the third worst hit nation in the pandemic with 700,000 cases, behind the United States and Brazil.
An employee at Cipla, who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said the company would send Cipremi to stockists starting today.
It was not immediately clear how many of Cipla’s vials would be required for a full treatment course.
Gilead has said a patient would typically need six vials of remdesivir for a five-day course.
In New Delhi meanwhile, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal yesterday opened through video link a 500-bed Covid care centre, set up in record six days, at the Commonwealth Games stadium.
To enhance the city’s medical infrastructure, the centre has been attached to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital. A team of 80 doctors and 150 nurses has been stationed at the centre by the ‘Doctors For You’, an NGO.
Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and the East District administration team were present on the occasion.
“The capacity of LNJP, which had 2,000 beds, has been enhanced by adding of 100 beds through Shehnai Banquet. Now 500 more beds have been added through this facility, taking the number of beds to 2,600,” Kejriwal said.
The new centre is equipped with CCTV cameras, food facility for up to 700, ambulance arrangements for the LNJP Hospital, specialists and doctors, mental health care counsellors and leisure activities like books and board games.
The centre, set up by the District Disaster Management Authority has separate beds for men and women.
Kejriwal sought a detailed report from the Delhi government’s health secretary on factors responsible for Covid-19 deaths in the city. The death rate in the national capital has seen a sharp decline since June.
The analytical report on deaths will aid the implementation of more stringent measures to reduce deaths, the city government said, adding that it will also help mitigate the other causes that have added to the casualties, such as co-morbidities, age, and health condition.
In June, the capital city recorded the highest single-day spike of 120 deaths, which has now gone down to 50. The measures such as the increase in the number of ICU beds, installation of more oxygen beds and plasma banks have reduced the death rate and the positivity ratio.
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