India might need 33 lakh tablets of dexamethasone by August 15, and the government is investing with pharmaceutical companies

Saturday, August 1, 2020

India might need 33 lakh tablets of dexamethasone by August 15, and the government is investing with pharmaceutical companies

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India may need 33 tablets of dexamethasone lakh by August 15, and the government is investing with pharmaceutical companies

The Print learned that the Modi government had contacted dexamethasone makers - the first drug to have saved lives against Covid-19 - to check stock availability across the country.

In a letter written by the Medicines Pricing and Availability Authority, the National Drug Pricing Authority (NPPA), the government directed manufacturers to ensure appropriate production of three drugs - dexamethasone, methylprednisolone and inoxaparin - which are now part of the Covid-19 clinical treatment protocol.

While dexamethasone and methylprednisolone are a corticosteroid, which is used for anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects in treating Covid-19, enoxaparin (known as heparin) is an anticoagulant that helps prevent the formation of blood clots caused by the virus.

The message reached by ThePrint was sent to the executives and chief executives of the drug companies that produce these medications, including Sun Pharma, Sanofi, Cipla and Zydus Cadila.

Based on the estimates of the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) - an officer who provides technical advice on all general medical and health issues of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare - the letter said, that the requirements for dexamethasone in India could be around 33 lakh tablets (6 mg) for the period until August 15.

Methylprednisolone requirements are bound around 1.38 lakh vials while inoxaparin requirements are estimated at 30.15 lakh vials with a strength of 40 mg and 14.07 lakh vials with a strength of 60 mg by July 31.

Also read: Antibody therapies take the spotlight as ‘Plan B’ to treat coronavirus

What does the message say?

The letter directed the companies to "ensure that the above medicines are produced in sufficient quantities (as indicated in the DGHS) and take proactive steps to maintain adequate stockpiles and ensure supply throughout the country."

The report added, "Provide adequate stockpiles across the country, whenever and wherever a supply shortage is reported." (Sic)

The companies have asked for "immediate intimate details" regarding the production or sale of the above medicines during the past two years (FY19-19, FY19-2020).

Other details include "shares held with companies so far, the production schedule for the next six months, details of suppliers through which companies obtain active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), any problems in supplying APIs and purchase order details set by the state governments."

According to the four-page message, the largest supplier of dexamethasone is Zydus Cadila with an 80 percent market share, while Enoxaparin, Bharat Serums and Sanofi account for more than 37 percent of the total market. For methylprednisolone, the US company Pfizer controls its headquarters with a market share of 43.4 percent.

The letter was also flagged to "government drug watchers," who also ordered "to issue instructions to these manufacturers to ensure the availability of medicines across the country."
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