COVID-19 Coronavirus Antiviral Drug Remdesivir – Availability in the Philippines

Remdesivir, is a broad-spectrum antiviral drug, originally created in 2009 for the treatment of hepatitis C, then later tested for treatment of the Ebola virus.  Although it was ineffective in treating Ebola, as of this writing, it is the only approved drug to treat COVID-19.  Remdesivir has presented promise in studies showing up to a 63% decrease in the risk of death when compared to standard care without the drug. This finding needs further confirmation, as noted by Gilead, the creator, patent holder and maker of the drug.   

Recent reports that the U.S. has bought up the entire current 500,000 dose supply of the drug has caused fear that the drug will not be available to other nations including the Philippines. 

However, the Directory of the Philippines Department of Health (DoH) informed the public that there are other suppliers in Asia that could provide the drug to our country. While we wait for further word of these sources, hope abounds for the therapeutic to become available sooner that later. 

Meanwhile, Gilead recently signed a non-exclusive licensing agreement with pharmaceutical companies in three countries, India, Pakistan, and Egypt to allow companies in these countries to make the drug for mass distribution throughout 127 countries around world, including the Philippines. These designated distribution countries represent those in the low to middle-income category, along with some other high-income countries.  The countries also represent those with populations having substantial difficulties with healthcare access.

These licensing agreements will allow the companies to utilize the intellectual property rights for production of a generic form of the therapeutic drug remdesivir. This will allow these licensed generic drug companies to ramp up production more quickly for distribution to healthcare facilities and those suffering with COVID-19. These licenses will extend royalty-free until an approved vaccine is approved or up to the end of the pandemic as declared by the World Health Organization (WHO).  This advanced licensing agreement extended to the generic drug companies will allow the companies to set their own discounted prices for the drug. 

We hope to keep you informed in this blog of issues effecting the Clark and Subic Bay Freeport Zones, and, when appropriate, the entire Country of the Philippines. Given the fact that COVID-19 and its resultant extreme public health, economic and tourism impact have presented a difficult challenge to us all, we feel we must examine and relay any positive news to help alleviate the suffering and pain brought on by this pandemic.?

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