The Centre on Tuesday removed all customs duty on imported Remdesivir injections and the drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) in a bid to boost supplies. The government made the announcement weeks after it banned the export of the antiviral injections till the covid-19 situation improves in the country.
According to an official release by the Union Finance Ministry, the central government has also exempted customs duty on the import of “Beta Cyclodextrin (SBEBCD)”, used in the manufacture of Remdesivir, subject to the condition that the importer follows the procedure set out in the Customs (Import of Goods at Concessional Rate of Duty) Rules, 2017.
The move aims to improve the supply of Remdesivir and make it available at cheaper prices as the country reels under the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Union Health Ministry had directed domestic manufacturers of remdesivir to ensure easy access of the drug, which is used in the treatment of coronavirus, to hospitals and patients and advised them to display their stockists and distributes on their websites.
Drugs inspectors and other officers have been directed to verify stocks, check malpractices and also take other effective actions to curb hoarding and black marketing. State health secretaries will review this along with drug inspectors of the respective states and UTs, the government statement said.
Seven Indian companies are producing the injection under voluntary licensing agreement with M/s. Gilead Sciences, USA. They have an installed capacity of about 38.80 lakh units per month, the ministry said. The Department of Pharmaceuticals has been in contact with the domestic manufacturers to ramp up the drug’s production, it added.
The government has also advised states that the extant ‘National Clinical Management Protocol for COVID-19’, which is based on evidence, has been developed after many interactions by the committee of experts and it is the guiding document for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
In the protocol, remdesivir is listed as an investigational therapy, i.e. where informed and shared decision making is essential, besides taking note of contra indications mentioned in the detailed guidelines, the ministry said.
States and UTs have been advised that these steps should again be communicated to all hospitals, both in public and private sector, and compliance monitored, it added.