Bangladesh to sell first vials of antiviral drug remdesivir

Clinical trials showed remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc., cut recovery time for hospitalised COVID-19 patients by four days or 31 per cent

Although not a complete cure to COVID-19, remdesivir is the first scientifically approved medication to fight the virus. Photo: iStock

Dhaka-based company Beximco Pharmaceutical Limited has claimed that it has become the world’s first company to start selling the generic version of Gilead Sciences Inc.’s antiviral drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19.

According to a Bloomberg report, the drug will be sold under the brand name Bemsivir.

Quoting the company’s chief operating officer Rabbur Reza, a Bloomberg report said Beximo will sell the drug for about 6,000 taka per vial to private clinics, but will give it for free to state-run hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.

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It will take at least six vials to treat a critically ill COVID-19 patient, Reza said.

Remdesivir was earlier approved by US drug regulator for emergency use in COVID-19 patients. Clinical trials on 1,000 patients by National Institute of Health (NIH) showed the drug cut recovery time for hospitalised COVID-19 patients by four days or 31 per cent.

Bangladesh is allowed to produce generic versions of patented drugs under World Trade Organisation provisions.

Related news: Indian origin scientist identifies four possible drugs to treat COVID-19

Reza said the company is getting queries from other countries and that if governments require it, the drug will be supplied through exports instead of traditional channels.

Beximo is being funded by Norway’s Norges Bank, which controls 3 per cent of its shares.

Gilead has signed nonexclusive licensing deals with five generic drugmakers in India (including Cipla Ltd. and Mylan NV) and Pakistan (Ferozsons Laboratories Ltd.) to manufacture remdesivir for 127 low and lower-middle income countries.

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