Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company Hetero Labs, certified to manufacture and sell Gilead Sciences experimental COVID-19 drug remdesivir, has dispatched its first consignment of 20,000 vials to the states of Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Telangana.
The company has priced the drug at ₹5,400 ($71) per milligram vial and is slated to send the next batch to Indore and Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh), Kolkata (West Bengal), Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), Patna (Bihar), Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh), Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Goa.
While the company plans to produce one lakh vials of the drug in the span of a month, it can only be available through hospitals and not through retail, managing director of Hetro Group of Companies Vamsi Krishna Bandi told NDTV.
He said the drug won’t be administered to people with liver disease, kidney failure, pregnant or lactating mothers and children below 12 years.
The active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) of the drug is being manufactured in the company in Visakhapatnam while the drug is being made at the company’s formulation facility in Hyderabad.
Hetero and Cipla are among the prominent Indian drug makers which have secured licences from US-based Gilead Sciences Inc, the original maker of remdesivir, to manufacture and sell the drug in 127 low and middle income countries.
Cipla on the other hand has said that its version of the drug will be priced below ₹5,000, cheaper than Hetero’s.
Improvement were seen in COVID-19 patients when they were administered remdesivir during clinical trials, leading to its approval for emergency use by several countries including the US, India, Japan and South Korea.