The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has assured the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) that the state has adequate stock availability of essential COVID-19 drugs like remdesivir, tocilizumab, flavipiravir and itolizumab to ensure its consistent supply for COVID-19 management.
As per the report shared with CDSCO, the state today has a stock of 39807 remdesivir injections, 1169 tocilizumab 400 mg injections, 104 tocilizumab 200 mg injections, 239 tocilizumab 80 mg injections, 262 tocilizumab 162 mg injections, 13,39,761 flavipiravir tablets 200 mg, 85,752 flavipiravir tablets 400 mg and 96 itolizumab injections.
According to data shared by the state FDA with the CDSCO in the month of August, 2020 there was stock of 39,60,662 HCQ tablets, 21,473 remdesivir and 1,249 tocilizumab injections at government hospital based pharmacies and with private retailers and stockists.
As per Union health ministry, sale of these COVID-19 drugs should be strictly dispensed on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner (RMP). Hence, the state drug regulator has issued circulars to the pharmacies in the state not to sell these drugs without a valid prescription.
The Maharashtra FDA also started 24x7 control room at its Mumbai head office for reporting issues related to unavailability of essential drugs through its toll free number 1800222365 and 022 26592362/26592263/26592365.
As per Union health ministry, anti-malarial drug HCQ production which is the first line of treatment in the country has also increased from 12.23 crore to 30 crore per month. The country has also released about 16 crore tablets of HCQ to Central and State institutions as well as pharmacies against the requirement of about 2.5 crore tablets in the past.
HCQ is an anti-malarial drug commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and malaria. It decreases pain and swelling in arthritis patients. The drug had shot to popularity for its possible use in treating COVID-19 infected patients and also its use as a prophylactic medicine for COVID-19.
On April 1, 2020, the Centre made it mandatory for chemists to sell the medicine with doctor’s prescription only by including HCQ drug under Schedule H1 category.
In a notification on March 25, 2020, the government placed HCQ on a restricted items list and then put a blanket ban on any export of the drug on April 4, 2020. It later revoked the ban on April 6, 2020, effectively overturning the previous notification. Schedule H1 was introduced by the Centre through Gazette notification dated August 30, 2013 to check indiscriminate use of antibiotics, anti-TB and some other drugs in the country.