Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has announced that it will buy 27 lakh tablets of Favipiravir, the drug which many believe is the first potential oral treatment for mild and moderate symptoms of COVID-19. The BMC would be purchasing them at Rs 80 per tablet from Glenmak, which right now is the only pharmaceutical company in India licensed to manufacture the drug. The BMC is getting a discount of Rs 23 per each tablet as the the market price set by Glenmark is Rs 103 per table. The purchase will cost BMC around Rs 21 crore.
Opposition parties are against this decision by the BMC saying that the corporation could purchase the medicine at a much cheaper cost as at least two more Indian companies will get the licence to manufacture Favipiravir soon cutting down the cost of the medicine to Rs 50 per tablet, in roughly’s a week’s time, according to Mumbai Mirror.
BMC Chief Iqbal Singh Chahal had said earlier that the BMC’s job is to save lives and that the corporation cannot wait for these firms to get approval.
Samajwadi Party MLA and corporator Rais Shaikh has complained to Chahal asking him to review the purchase. Shaikh has that that the BMC is planning to buys drugs for 41,000 patients. “The BMC should have gone for a smaller sample of 2,000-5,000 patients to map its efficacy. Moreover, its shelf life is said to be only three months.” Shaikh said, according to the daily.
Chahal expressed mistrust in the BMC saying that even if the tender is for 27 lakh tablets they may actually buy fewer tablets. “We are not buying all at once. There is no guarantee right now that the newly approved firms will go into production. The companies are depending on Chinese imports, which are stuck now. They may not be able to produce for at least a month. So the permission will have no meaning,” he said.
Glenmark has confirmed that the tender they had received from BMC was for Rs 80.70 per tablet. Glenmark is expecting a requirement of 2-2.5 lakh tablets per week and will be able to provide two lakh tablets in the first week.
The Drug Controller General had recently given Glenmark the approval to manufacture and sell Favipiravir under the brand name FabiFlu. The research for the drug was done by Glenmark in Navi Mumbai and the drug is being manufactured at its Ankleshwar plant in Gujarat.
Favipiravir in the past has been used for treating influenza and Ebola. The drug has also shown positive results in COVID-19 trials. Around 88 per cent of patients with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 showed improvement when treated with the drug.