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Health Minister: Bangladesh moves towards peak of Covid-19 cases

  • Published at 02:29 pm May 21st, 2020
File photo: Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque addresses the press at Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Friday, January 31, 2020 <strong>Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune</strong>
File photo shows Health Minister Zahid Maleque addressing the media Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

Beximco Pharma will supply Remdesivir for free to the government designated hospitals for Covid-19 treatment

Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque has said Bangladesh is moving towards the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak as the number of positive cases are rising gradually.

He was speaking at the handover of the 1000 doses of Remdesivir drug manufactured by Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd, at the secretariat on Thursday.

The minister said: “It is a positive thing that the number of Covid-19 patients has not jumped during this peak time.”

On Wednesday, Habibur Rahman Khan, additional secretary of the Health Services Division said, “The upward trends of Covid-19 cases will continue for two weeks.”  

The government has certified eight pharmaceutical companies to produce the Remdesivir drug for treating Covid-19 patients, while five companies are producing it now.

Beximco will market Remdesivir drug as Bemsivir.

The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DADG) has already approved the medicine to treat -19 patients.

“A vaccine or a medicine for treating Covid-19 patients is yet to be made, but many countries are using Remdesivir including the US as it was approved by the  US Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” he said.

“Apart from Remdesivir, some other medicines are also in the market to treat Covid-19 patients. Remdesivir can help stable emergency patients. So doctors can prescribe the medicine keeping in mind the condition of the patients,” Zahid added. 

“We are pleased to be the first generic company in the world to introduce this very important drug for treating the hospitalized Covid-19 patients. This reinforces our commitment to play our part in ensuring access to breakthrough therapies despite facing many challenges amid this unprecedented pandemic,” Nazmul Hassan MP, managing director of Beximco Pharma said.

“We express our gratitude to the regulatory authorities for extending their wholehearted support for making this potential drug available to our patients at the earliest possible time. As a responsible company, we will continue to extend our support to the government in all possible ways during this national emergency,” he added.

Nazmul said: “The US has given permissionfor emergency use of Remdesivir. This drug is a bit more expensive than other drugs. A patient needs 6-11 injections. If the cost of an injection is Tk5,000-Tk6,000, then a patient will need about Tk60,000.

“Since the government of Bangladesh is providing free treatment to coronavirus infected patients in government hospitals, we at Beximco have decided that as many patients as there are in government hospitals in Bangladesh, if they need Remdesivir, they will get it for free. We will not take money from the government for this. If we are told a patient needs this medicine, we will deliver it there,” he further added.

Beximco Pharma will supply Bemsivir to the government designated hospitals for Covid-19 treatment, and it will not be available through retail pharmacies, in compliance with the directives from Bangladesh drug regulatory authorities. 

On the very first day of receiving regulatory approval, Beximco donated large quantities of Bemsivir to Bangladesh government for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

Remdesivir, a drug developed by Gilead Sciences, has grabbed attention as one of the most promising treatments for Covid-19 cases, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

US drug authorities granted emergency use of it recently, paving the way for its broader use in US hospitals, after Gilead provided data showing the drug had helped treat Covid-19 patients.

Beximco plans to price the drug, which is given via intravenous infusion, between Tk5,000-Tk 6,000 per vial ($59-$71/per vial), Beximco’s Chief Operating Officer Rabbur Reza recently told Reuters, adding  that a patient might need anywhere between five to 11 vials.

Beximco’s pricing indicates a course of Remdesivir  treatment could cost between $295 and $781 per patient in the south Asian countries depending on the severity of the case.

The figures are a first indication of how the drug will be priced, as countries around the world struggle to control the Covid-19 pandemic which has infected more than 5 million people with over 300,000 deaths worldwide.

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