Covid-19 approved drug expected to hit SA shores by end July

Covid-19 approved drug expected to hit SA shores by end July

- The United States has agreed on a deal with Gilead Sciences to purchase the drug Remdesivir

- Remdesivir has been shown to help moderately ill patients recover more quickly from Covid-19 and it is the only proven treatment for the virus

- South Africa is expected to receive a generic version of the drug by the end of July

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A drug that will be available in South Africa by the end of July is expected to save the lives of more than 13 000 Covid-19 patients by the end of the year.

Around 30 000 doses of a generic version of Remdesivir, the only proven treatment for Covid-19, are being manufactured by Cipla under licence from Gilead Sciences of the US, reported TimesLIVE.

A study involving scientists from the universities of Wits, Cape Town and Stellenbosch has estimated this could increase the number of patients that intensive care units (ICUs) can handle by more than 50%.

Recent research has suggested Remdesivir can reduce Covid-19 deaths by up to 30%. It also reduces intensive care stays from 15 days to 11, on average.

Cipla South Africa CEO Paul Miller

Cipla South Africa CEO Paul Miller
Source: Facebook

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Remdesivir is the first drug to have been approved by US authorities to treat the Covid-19 virus and is shown to speed up the recovery of hospitalised patients.

702 reported that Cipla South Africa CEO Paul Miller said the medicine is quite pricey but Cipla plans to bring it at an affordable price.

Miller said:

"In America, Gilead sells it at about $390 a vial and you would probably take between six or 10 vials depending upon your length of stay in hospital.
"What we have done as Cipla is we have managed to manufacture this in India as an injectible and we are bringing it at a very affordable price of $55 per vial. We're hoping that this is going to make the medication affordable and accessible."

Miller added that a physician has made an application locally they are working with the health authorities now to get that approval through so they can bring the product to market.

BusinessInsider reported that the cost of the vials will be around R940 and a typical course about six vials. A person infected might end up paying around R5 600. Cipla will also be charging the same price for public and private hospitals. reported that a breakthrough treatment has been identified to reduce fatalities amongst seriously ill patients. Dexamethasone has proven effective in reducing deaths by 33% when it comes to patients on ventilators, according to a study by the University of Oxford.

The South African healthcare system is already under enormous pressure as hospital, both private and public, are filling up quickly and in some parts have already reached maximum capacity.

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