Health Desk- 09 May 2020: In Bangladesh Eskayef, Beximco and Incepta pharmaceuticals have begun manufacturing the experimental COVID-19 drug, remdesivir.
The Directorate General of Drug Administration has permitted five other companies to produce the drug and they are Square, Beacon, Healthcare, Popular and Opsonin, according to Ruhul Amin, a DGDA director.
A single dose of remdesivir will be priced at Tk 5,500, according to officials of the DGDA and the pharmaceutical companies. An adult patient may need up to 12 doses on doctor’s advice.
The pharmacos can initially supply the drug to the hospitals that have been permitted to treat COVID-19. It will not be available in pharmacies.
Eskayef is set to submit samples from its first two batches of remdesivir for testing on Sunday, Amin told media on Friday.
The experimental drug developed by Gilead Sciences that failed to cure Ebola is now being touted as the best shot against COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The latest data on the drug showed that it reduced the time of recovery of COVID-19 patients.
Remdesivir has been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use in Covid-19 patients — becoming the first medication backed by early clinical data to be made available to fight the novel coronavirus.
Mohammad Mujahidul Islam, director of Eskayef Pharmaceutica;’s marketing and sales department, thinks they can start distribution soon after getting the final clearance.
Beximco Pharmaceuticals Chief Operating Officer Rabbur Reza also said they were expecting to start marketing remdesivir in May.
“We will supply it in Bangladesh first. We’ll need to know how many doses Bangladesh needs.”
“We will supply the government either for free or at a very reasonable price. When the government’s need ends, we will start supplying it to the market. We will try to offer the lowest price in the world,” he added.
Incepta Pharmaceuticals Chairman and Managing Director Abdul Muktadir was looking to begin the distribution in two weeks.
“We are still experimenting,” he said.
Remdesivir’s potential to help COVID-19 patients is based on the ability to disable the mechanism by which certain viruses, including the new coronavirus, replicate themselves and potentially overwhelm their host's immune system, according to a Reuters report.
Data from a trial by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States showed remdesivir reduced hospitalisation stays by 31 percent compared to a placebo treatment, but did not significantly improve survival.
Gilead's patent on remdesivir in theory means it has exclusive rights to make it, but international trade rules allow nations defined by the United Nations as least-developed countries, including Bangladesh, to ignore such patents and make drugs more affordable in those markets, the Reuters reported.