Centre plans to create live dashboard to monitor availability of key drugs

Medicine Unsplash@hikendal 640

The move is driven by the learnings from the second wave when COVID-19 critical medicines were hoarded and blackmarketed causing shortages in the market

Representational Image. Image courtesy: Unsplash@hikendal

To prevent the shortage and black marketing of key Covid-19 drugs in India, the central government plans to create a live dashboard of critical drugs to monitor the availability of these medicines across India, News18.com has learned.

The drug price and availability watchdog, National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA), which works under the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) — an arm under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers – is working on a plan to create a system that can track the availability of stock in hand and sales.

DoP is the apex body to form key policies for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry in India.

NPPA plans to create a live dashboard on an online portal on at least nine categories of medicines, which are generally prescribed for Covid-19 treatment.

All pharmaceutical manufacturers have been asked to upload information on selected COVID-19 drugs on the portal. The information sought will include the amount of production, distribution and products in the pipeline. The companies will update the information on a regular basis.

The selected categories include antipyretics, anti-allergic, antitussives (to suppress coughing), antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, vitamins and minerals, monoclonal antibodies and antivirals (such as Molnupiravir).

“The categories are indicative. As per the need, we will focus on other Covid drugs too. It will be a dynamic portal,” a government official privy to the development told News18.com.

The move is driven by the learnings from the second wave when COVID-19 critical medicines were hoarded and black marketed causing shortages in the market. For instance: Remdesivir, one of the most sought-after experimental drugs for the treatment of Covid-19 patients, was sold in the black market for a higher price. A vial costing Rs3,400 was sold for anywhere between Rs15,000 to Rs60,000.

Another drug, Favipiravir, was also running in short supply at pharmacy outlets.

The Delhi High Court, in May 2021, had asked the centre and Delhi government to prevent black-marketing and hoarding of medicines and medical equipment related to Covid-19 treatment.

“The idea is to prevent hoarding and shortage of drugs in the market. Also, the dashboard will prevent leakage from the system leading to black marketing,” the official said.

When asked if the portal will be available for the public, another source added that it will only be available for government usage. “Our stock position information should not be public, as it can be misused or could become a cause for panic if read without full understanding.”

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