Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical giant Beximco Pharma on Thursday introduced what it said was the world’s first generic version of the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, which has grabbed attention as one of the most promising treatments for the COVID-19.
Remdesivir has recently been authorised by the US for emergency use in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the multinational Gilead Science Inc “emergency use authorisation” clearing the way for the broader use of the drug.
“We are pleased to be the first generic company in the world to introduce this very important drug for treating the hospitalised COVID-19 patients,” Beximco Pharma’s managing director Nazmul Hassan Papon announced.
The company has branded the medicine as “Bemsivir”.
Papon, also a Member of Parliament, handed over the first batch of medicine to Health Minister Zahed Maleque to mark the drug’s introduction, saying the firm will provide Bemsivir free of cost to all the severely ill patients of government hospitals which provide free treatment.
Beximco said it could produce generic versions of patented drugs under World Trade Organisation provisions that grant least developed countries a waiver from seeking licenses.
Based on laboratory, animal and clinical studies, WHO is overseeing what it calls “Solidarity Trials” involving a number of countries on four possible treatments for COVID-19: remdesivir, which was previously tested as an Ebola treatment; the HIV treatment lopinavir and ritonavir; multiple sclerosis treatment interferon beta-1a; and related drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which have been used to treat illnesses including malaria and rheumatoid arthritis.
Gilead said the drug, which is given by intravenous infusion, had helped improve outcomes for patients with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and provided data suggesting it worked better when given earlier in the course of infection.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s health authorities said 22 people died overnight due to the COVID-19, the highest number of deaths due to the coronavirus in a single day in the country. The death toll in Bangladesh due to COVID-19 has reached 408.
During the period, 1,773 people were tested COVID-19 positive, taking the total number of infections to 28,511.