Byline: Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD -- The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) said on Monday that remdesivir, a drug which has proved effective against coronavirus, will be available in the country within three weeks.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Asim Rauf told Dawn that Drap, after registration of the medicine, had allowed two pharmaceutical companies to import this critical drug. The regulator has given licences to 14 manufacturers for producing the medicine at home.
Remdesivir injection is an antiviral which stops the virus from reproducing itself or slows down its ability to do so.
The drug has been approved for use in the United States, Japan, South Korea and the European Union after its clinical trials turned out to be encouraging.
Drap official says 14 firms allowed to produce remdesivir in Pakistan
This is the same medicine which federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had mentioned at a press conference after he recovered from Covid-19.
Describing coronavirus as a horrible disease, Sheikh Rashid had regretted that the injection necessary for treatment of critical patients was not available even for Rs500,000 to a minister who had held 14 ministries in his political career.
'I thank the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority for arranging this injection,' the minister had stated. 'I pray that no one, not even my enemy, suffers from this disease.'
The Drap chairman conceded that the medicine was not easily available a week ago, but the situation had now improved and after three weeks sufficient stocks would land in the market.
However, he clarified, remdesivir would not be sold over the counter at pharmacies. 'Instead, it will be provided to critical patients by hospitals concerned or directly by selected pharmaceutical companies.'
He said Pakistan was the sixth country in the world which had pounced upon the opportunity to make this medicine accessible to patients.
Remdesivir was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 1. A shortage then confronted the FDA, but with the passage of time the situation improved.
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