Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd has handed over the first batch of Remdesivir to the health directorate and said it will continue supplying the drug to government healthcare facilities for free.
Beximco Pharmaceuticals' Managing Director Nazmul Hasan Papon handed over 1,000 vials of the drug to health minister Zahid Maleque at the ministry conference room in Dhaka on Thursday.
The drug, which has shown promise in fighting the novel coronavirus, has been approved for emergency use in the USA. But Remdesivir is an expensive drug, and many argue that people in general will not be able to afford it in Bangladesh.
The price is between Tk 5,000 and Tk 5,500 per dose, and a patient may need to use 6 to 11 vials. This means it will cost Tk60,000 for the drug for coronavirus treatment.
Nazmul Hasan Papon said that since the government is treating Covid-19 patients free of cost, Beximco Pharmaceuticals has decided to provide the drug to government medical facilities for free.
"We will deliver the drug whenever the government asks us," said Papon.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of the USA has given permission for emergency use of Remdesivir. The Directorate General of Drug Administration has approved the medicine for emergency use only in Bangladesh because of the FDA approval.
The health minister said, "Beximco is the first company to produce the drug in the region. This medicine will be given to critical Covid-19 patients. Only specialist physicians will be allowed to prescribe it, if required."
"There is no vaccine for novel coronavirus, no medicine for guaranteed remedy as well. A number of drugs show promising results against the viral infection, and Remdesivir is one of them. Our doctors are using a protocol for medicine use, and I hope this drug will be included in that," said Zahid Maleque.
The minister said that wearing a face mask, maintaining social distancing, conducting tests and placing the suspected patient in isolation are the main weapons of choice in fighting the virus
"We do not want any more deaths from the virus. But many are dying and we are heading towards the peak," said the health minister.
He said the government is trying its best to curb the spread of the virus.
"We have stopped ferry services, but people are moving from one district to another by motorcycle and even by rickshaw. I noticed that mothers are going shopping with their children. I urge them not to gather at the shops. You and your children will then get infected which will turn the Eid joy into grief," he concluded.