Maharashtra government looks to cap prices of some key Covid drugs

Mumbai : The Maharashtra government may cap the price of key drugs such as remdesivir that are used to treat Covid-19 patients amid a spate of rising case numbers and hospitalisation caused by the coronavirus.

The state government will invoke the Epidemic Diseases Act to cap prices of the injectable drug, as it did last year to limit the prices of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) tests and N95 masks.

“Despite having several manufacturers for remdesivir, the treatment cost has not come down for the end-user — we want to change that,” a state government official said, asking not to be identified.

A provision of the Epidemic Diseases Act allows a drug price regulator to impose a ceiling on essential medicines during extreme situations and a pandemic is considered one. However, there is no clarity on whether a state government can use this provision to regulate drug prices.

Remdesivir is manufactured by seven Indian generic drug makers. The price of the drug ranges from ₹3,000 to ₹5,000 for a five-day course. However, there are reports that these drugs end up costing as much as ₹20,000 for patients after a mark-up by distributors.

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