Falsified remdesivir found at Indian pharma plant

Hundreds of falsified vials of COVID-19 antiviral therapy remdesivir - a molecule originally developed by Gilead Sciences - have been seized at a location in Himachal Pradesh described by local police as a "pharmaceutical unit."

The 673 vials – labelled up as being for clinical trial use only – were being sold directly to patients at highly-inflated prices, according to an report. 11 people have been taken into custody in connection with the illicit production of remdesivir, which Haryana Police said is in "high demand".

A statement from the force noted that the operation was part of an ongoing action against black marketers of COVID-19 drugs – mainly remdesivir – and oxygen cylinders across the state. Before the latest bust, it had arrested 76 people accused engaged in black marketing, with the hunt on for other suspects.

A Haryana police spokesperson told NDTV that the manufacturing unit Alfin Drugs Pvt Ltd - reportedly owned by Dilpreet Singh in Nalagarh – was manufacturing "large quantities of fake remdesivir injections" and has been sealed while the investigation is ongoing.

Widespread falsification of remdesivir and other COVID-19 drugs and vaccines is being reported in India as the pandemic accelerates there, with the death toll topping the 300,000 mark this week.

100,000 of those deaths came in the last month, and the latest wave of infections is threatening to overwhelm India's healthcare system, with hospitals running short of essential supplies like oxygen and critical medicines – including remdesivir.

Last week, police in Madhya Pradesh state said that the suspect that the majority (around 85 per cent) of 473 remdesivir vials seized from black marketeers during the last few weeks were counterfeit, generally saline or glucose solutions.  

The force has so far arrested 57 accused across 21 different incidents, including the driver for a state cabinet minister.

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