As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday, March 25, said that supplies of the investigational drugs antiviral remdesivir and immunosuppressive tocilizumab are “running low.”
“The remaining supplies being used by hospitals are donations from the WHO (World Health Organization),” the DOH said.
To date, there is still no approved treatment for COVID-19.
“Use of these investigational drugs were allowed under the compassionate use permit of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration),” the DOH said.
The DOH added that these drugs must have emergency use authorization from the Philippine FDA and a positive recommendation from the Health Technology Assessment Council before the government can procure them.
In October 2020, a study backed by the WHO said that remdesivir “appeared to have little or no effect on hospitalized COVID-19, as indicated by overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay.”
The data, which has yet to be peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal, seems to contradict at least two major US studies that have shown remdesivir can reduce the duration of hospital stays for COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the DOH said that the country has enough supplies of steroid dexamethasone.
“However if additional supplies do not arrive and considering the current trend of infection, supplies may only last for another two weeks at most,” the DOH said.
The DOH assured the public that it would allot P5 million to its hospitals in virus epicenter Metro Manila, as well as those in Central Luzon and Calabarzon “to replenish their COVID-19 medicine supply.”
On Thursday, the Philippines logged 8,773 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily figure since the pandemic began. This brings total confirmed cases in the country to 693,048.
Of the total cases, 14.4% or 99,891 cases are active or are sick, also the highest reported active cases since the pandemic started.
On Wednesday, March 24, the DOH had said that cities in Metro Manila were already at “high to critical risk.“ – Rappler.com