Telangana faces oxygen shortage; to double Remdesivir production over the next two days

Published : April 21, 2021 23:02 IST

Oxygen cylinders at a refilling station in Jalpally on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Photo: NAGARA GOPAL

With the number of COVID-19 cases touching new highs in Telangana, the demand for vials of the antiviral drug Remdesivir and for oxygen have skyrocketed. The Centre’s controversial decision to divert nearly 45 tonnes of liquid oxygen manufactured at Chennai’s sole oxygen supplier, Inox Air Products Pvt Ltd, in Sriperumbudur to Telangana has other than angering Tamil Nadu hardly improved the situation in Telangana.

According to the Telangana Industries Secretary Jayesh Ranjan, Telangana’s daily demand for Oxygen is 350 tonnes. The State’s current production capacity is only around 100 tonnes. Ranjan disclosed that the State had been promised 250 tonnes of oxygen per day by the Centre to meet the demand. He added that they were given to understand that the shortfall would be coming from Odisha and Karnataka. Officials were tight lipped when asked to comment on the oxygen being diverted from Tamil Nadu.

On the ground, kith and kin of patients who managed to procure an oxygen cylinder made a beeline to the handful of oxygen refilling plants in Hyderabad hoping to get them refilled. But such refilling is illegal. According to an official with the Drugs Control Administration (DCA) of the State government, even the possession of medical oxygen cylinders without a licence from the DCA is illegal and is considered as hoarding. Refilling of such cylinders bought without a licence is also illegal.

Telangana also witnessed people from the districts making a beeline to Jinke Wada, in Hyderabad’s Moosapet, the only location where Remidisiver is being sold, by the Hyderabad-based generic pharmaceutical company Hetero Drugs, at its retail price of Rs.3,400 a vial.

Taking stock of the shortage of Remdesivir, the State is looking to double its production over the next two days. According to Dr Preeti Meena, director, DCA, Hetero Drugs has been asked to augment its daily production capacity of 35,000 vials by an additional 20,000 vials a day. In addition, Hetero Drugs will manufacture another 20,000 vials at Celon Labs on a lease basis. Further, Mylan Labs is going to use the facilities at Gland Pharma to manufacture around 37,000 vials a day. According to Meena, the Centre will decide how many vials will go to each state.