Remdesivir, an antiviral injection, being used by different countries for the treatment of coronavirus is all set to have a ‘clinical trial’ in Nepal.
Physicians in Nepal have long been advocating the use of this drug for patients rendered weak due to the COVID-19 infection, are admitted to ICUs and kept in ventilators.
The Department of Drug Administration, on Tuesday, opened tender bid to procure the drug for clinical trials. The drug, manufactured by Gelead Pharmaceuticals in the United States, is said to be effective in treatment of coronavirus infected, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Narayan Dhakal, Director General of the Department of Drug Administration, said that clinical trials of the drug are being conducted in the United States, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan, among other countries.
“As it is still in trial, it cannot be called a cure for coronavirus yet, but remdesivir is being used because it is more effective than most other drugs used to treat infections,” he said.
According to him, this medicine can cost between Rs 6,000 to Rs 21,000 per unit. He said that according to the Nepal Drugs Act 2035, drugs used as clinical trials cannot be registered and imported but they will only be used for emergency purposes.
The guideline issued by the Nepal Medical Council (Interim Clinical Guidance for Covid-19) also states that remdesivir can be administered during the treatment of coronavirus infected patients.
Remdesivir has so far been widely recognized as an effective antiviral drug for coronavirus infection, epidemiology expert, Janak Koirala informed.
“A number of trial studies have shown that the coronavirus patients who were given this drug recovered within 10 days and returned home while normally it takes 15 days for other patients to recover,” he said.
He also said that remdesivir should be imported to Nepal for emergency use as coronavirus vaccine has not been developed in the world yet. “We have been saying for a long time that this medicine should be brought to Nepal even if it is for study,” he said.
“India and other countries have already brough the medicine in use and it should be made available in our country as soon as possible.”
Two months ago, at the request of the World Health Organization, the Nepal Health Research Council tried to conduct a clinical trial of the drug and a study guideline has also been prepared, Council Member Secretary, Dr Pradip Gyawali said.
“First we were told to study according to the council’s guidelines, then we were told to study according to the organisation’s guidelines,” he said. He said that a clinical trial will be conducted on admitted patients.