Health Desk- 08th May, 2020: One of Bangladesh's largest drugmakers, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, will start production this month of the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, which has shown promise in fighting the new coronavirus, a senior company executive said on Tuesday.
Remdesivir, a drug developed by Gilead Sciences, has grabbed attention as one of the most promising treatments for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 250,000 people.
US drug authorities granted emergency use authorisation last week, paving the way for its broader use in US hospitals, after Gilead provided data showing the drug had helped COVID-19 patients.
The company plans to price the drug, which is given via intravenous infusion, at between 5,000 and 6,000 takas per vial ($59-$71/per vial), Beximco's Chief Operating Officer Rabbur Reza told Reuters, adding a patient might need anywhere between 5 and 11 vials.
"We will only know exactly how much a patient needs once studies are complete," Reza said. "We do expect the Bangladesh government will try to cover some of the price of the drug."
Production will begin this month, initially for domestic use, Reza added.
Beximco's pricing indicates a course of remdesivir treatment could cost between $295 and $781 per patient in the south Asian country depending on the severity of the case, the number of vials required and the final pricing of the drug.
The figures are a first indication of how the drug will be priced, as countries around the world struggle to control the coronavirus that has infected more than 3.5 million people worldwide.
Gilead has donated an initial batch of 1.5 million vials to help patients in the United States, but has yet to announce its pricing.
The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), which assesses the effectiveness of drugs to determine appropriate prices, but the cost of producing a 10-day course of remdesivir at $10 but suggested the price could rise to $4,500 based on patient benefits shown in clinical trials.