The Centre on Wednesday decided to ramp up the production of Remdesivir, the antiviral drug used for coronavirus treatment, and reduce its price amid the surge in coronavirus cases in the country.

States like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat have complained to the Centre about a shortage of the drug, as they scramble to control the spread of the infection, NDTV reported.

Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya held meetings with the manufactures of the drug on Monday and Tuesday to address the shortage. The minister said the shortage was emerging because the production of the drug was reduced when coronavirus cases declined in February, NDTV reported.

After the meetings, the Centre said the production capacity of the drug will be increased from 38.80 lakh vials per month to around 78 lakh.

The government added that the producers of Remdesivir have offered to reduce the price to less than Rs 3,500 per vial by the end of the week. At present, the price of the drug is not fixed and it costs between Rs 900 and Rs 5,000 per vial, according to the Hindustan Times.

The Centre also directed manufacturers to prioritise supplying the drug to hospitals. Meanwhile, the Drugs Controller General of India asked the states to keep a check on black marketing, hoarding and overcharging of Remdesivir.

Last week, the government had banned the export of Remdesivir indefinitely, in view of the rising coronavirus cases. It is considered a key drug in combating Covid-19, especially in adult patients with severe complications.