India has given the green signal for the mass production of COVID-19 treatments as the government grapples with the highly infectious virus.
However, local versions of three Western brands now used in public hospitals or private clinics are beyond the reach of many of the more than 10 million people infected by the disease worldwide.
Two pharmaceutical companies have already begun producing a generic version of Remdesivir. However, the Indian rebrands of the American antiviral medication were priced up to $92 for a full course and experts urged the government to slash prices.
Viranchi Shah of the National Drugs Manufacturer Association argued that would perhaps be impossible.
A Mumbai-based company said separately it had begun producing Favipiravir. But health activists insisted the rebranded Japanese flu drug was nothing but the rich man’s cure. Arpita Dwivedi said treating physicians like her had little choice.
Health products are selling at a premium in India. Some, three times the original cost because of the growing shortages.
However, prominent internal medicine specialist, Hemant Kakkar, argued manufacturers must be allowed to profit.
Jobs have vanished but the cost of living has spiraled, forcing households to live on shoe-string budgets, with almost no cash left for health emergencies in India.
In the video below, India begins phased reopening after a 70-day lockdown: