India’s federal government on Wednesday announced that it had waived the import duty on Remdesivir, a broad-spectrum antiviral drug, to provide affordable medical care for the COVID-19 patients, officials said.
The step was aimed at increasing the supply of the drug thereby reducing the cost which would benefit the patients.
A notification issued by the federal finance ministry said import duty was removed from Remdesivir active pharmaceutical ingredients, injection and specific substances used in the manufacture of Remdesivir.
“Considering the immediate requirement on the recommendation of the Department of Pharmaceuticals, the Department of Revenue has waived customs duty on Remdesivir and its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API)/Key Starting Material (KSM).
“This step will further augment domestic availability of Remdesivir injection,” Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers D. V. Sadanand Gowda, said.
The order will remain in force until Oct. 31.
Officials say Remdesivir has been approved as an investigational therapy for the COVID-19 patients who are on oxygen having moderate and severe symptoms.
The Indian federal government has asked all states to ensure judicious use of Remdesivir, stop the black marketing or hoarding of drugs and facilitate the smooth inter-state supplies of medicines.
India’s federal health ministry said rampant and irrational abuse of Remdesivir was not for home use but to be administered only to critical patients in hospital setting.
“Remdesivir is required for those individuals who require hospitalisation and are on oxygen support.
“It should not be procured from local channels,” V. K. Paul, a member of Indian government’s top policy think tank National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog (commission) said.
India is witnessing resurgence in COVID-19 cases and the government is struggling hard to contain the spread.
The health ministry earlier said 295,041 new COVID-19 cases and 2,023 related deaths were registered in the past 24 hours across the country.
So far this is the highest single-day spike since the start of the pandemic.
Apart from the rapid spread of the disease, India is also struggling with an acute shortage in supplies of oxygen, availability of hospital beds and essential drugs.
Some states have even flagged the federal government about the shortage of COVID-19 vaccine stocks. (Xinhua/NAN)