India’s black market inflates Covid-19 drug prices to the sky

India's black market inflates Covid-19 drug prices to the sky 6

When hospitalized in the capital Delhi, Abhinav Sharma’s uncle had a very high fever and had difficulty breathing.

However, buying medicine is almost impossible.

`I was in tears. My uncle was fighting death, and I struggled to buy something that could save his life. After dozens of calls, I spent 7 times more money to get it.

Sharma and his uncle’s situation is similar to many families in Delhi.

`I can get you three bottles for 30,000 rupees ($401), but you have to come here right away,` said a man claiming to `work in the pharmaceutical industry`, after receiving a call from

Meanwhile, the official price of each vial in India is 5,400 rupees ($72).

Medical staff at Max Smart Super Specialty Hospital, Delhi, treating a Covid-19 patient, May 28.

Demand increased after manufacturer Gilead Sciences announced clinical trial results, showing that the drug helps reduce patient treatment time from 15 days to 11 days.

Some families even save their life savings just to buy medicine, hoping to save the life of the person lying in the hospital bed.

The reason the price is so high is the gap between supply and demand.

`We do not sell drugs to intermediary distributors but ship directly to hospitals,` said Sandeep Shahstri, vice president of the company.

Mr. Shahstri also added that the company is working hard to meet user needs, stating that `such black markets affect the morale of users`.

`We understand the pain of families. They should not have to hunt for drugs like now. We are confident that we can increase production in the next few days, the situation will be brighter,` he affirmed.

However, even pharmacists do not have enough supply of remdesivir.

`A woman called me from Hyderabad last night. Her father is in Delhi hospital. She said she would pay any price for the medicine. But there was nothing I could do,` Rajeev

The above situation makes many people ask: How is this scarce drug sold illegally on the black market, while doctors themselves cannot get their hands on them?

Rajiv Singhal, general secretary of the Indian Pharmacists Association, denied public suspicions that pharmacy owners were `smuggling` the products out for profit.

`I confirm that no member participates in such activities. This is a public health emergency. I want to send a clear message that the Association will take tough legal action if

India's black market inflates Covid-19 drug prices to the sky

The drug remdesivir is sold in India by Hetero under the trade name Covifor.

The problem of price gouging is not unique to remdesivir.

Actemra is completely imported.

`We have boosted supply, but purchasing power will certainly continue to increase in the coming days,` said a Cipla representative.

`I went to about 50 stores in Delhi. They all promised to import the medicine, but offered two or three times the price per dose. It took me two days to get the necessary amount for my aunt,` said one

But Cipla also denied information that the drug was sold on the black market.

`We track each dose to ensure no one takes them out for profit. The company will not allow that to happen,` the company representative stated.

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