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City preparing to procure Remdesivir

The city government is preparing for the procurement of experimental drug Remdesivir for the treatment of severe cases of COVID-19.

Remdesivir bottles photo from CIDRAP.

During the meeting yesterday of the City Council committee on health and health insurance chaired by Councilor Maria Lourdes S. Gaane, Dr. Jose Chan of the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) said Remdesivir was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating Ebola virus and Hepatitis C.

However, he said it was later on used as an investigational drug to shorten the duration of illness, especially for severe COVID-19 patients.

Sheila Ratunil of the City Health Insurance Office informed the committee that the city will be allocating P5 million for the procurement of Remdesivir. She cited the pronouncement of the City Budget Office that the city intends to procure 1,000 vials that will cost P4,500 to P5,000 per vial.

The committee tackled the procurement of Remdesivir in response to the proposal of Councilor Edgar S. Cabanlas who said that the medicine has been out of stock in all hospitals because of the sudden surge of COVID-19 cases in the city.

According to FDA representative Merla Araña, FDA has not yet issued a Certificate of Product Registration for its use. Only a Compassionate Special Permit (CSP) will be required from doctors and hospitals for the use of the drug intended for their critical patients, she added.

Dr. Magda Juan of the J.R.Borja General Hospital (JRGBH) said the city-owned hospital and doctors have already applied for CSP to be able to procure and use the anti-viral drug.

The CHIO representative said the application of JRBGH for CSP is now ongoing. The FDA advised that CHIO can apply for CSP.

However, it should be indicated in the application that this will be used for JRBGH, she cited.

As this developed, Councilor Gaane advised the CHIO to fast-track the process of application for CSP. She said the procurement of Remdesivir will also be processed simultaneously.

In response to this, Councilor Lordan Suan filed a resolution requesting the FDA Central Office to immediately grant CSP to hospitals that are applying for it.

Supporting the move of Councilor Suan, Councilor Reuben Daba said there is a need to immediately procure the drug due to its increasing demand.

“Naa’y sense of urgency. Kung the soonest nga pwede maprocess pagdali ang CSP. Tabangan nato ang JRBGH and other hospitals aron dili na marefer sa NMMC,” Councilor Gaane said, adding that proper procedures should also be followed.

Dr. Elen Santua of the Department of Health (DOH) stressed that there should be regulations to avoid the indiscriminate use of Remdesivir and to ensure the safety of the patients.


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