Pakistan to produce anti-viral drug Remdesivir within two months

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani pharmaceutical company will manufacture the anti-viral drug Remdesivir which had been approved to treat coronavirus patients.
Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza said the drug will be manufactured within two months and will also be available for COVID-19 patients in Pakistan.
“American company Gilead has manufactured this drug and it has proven effective in treating coronavirus patients,” he said. “It is said that the use of the drug has reduced the intensity of the virus by 30%.”
Dr Mirza said that five companies in the world had been granted the license to manufacture the drug including one Pakistani pharmaceutical company, calling it a “breakthrough step”. 
He said that Pakistan will be among three countries in the world to produce and export the drug to 127 countries. “This is a big breakthrough and this is big news for coronavirus patients in Pakistan, who are increasing by the day and are expected to increase more,” he said.
US-based firm Gilead has signed non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements with five pharmaceutical manufacturers based in South Asia including Ferozsons Laboratories of Pakistan to further expand the supply of remdesivir.
Ferozsons Laboratories confirmed the news and said its subsidiary BF Biosciences Limited (BFBL) has signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences for manufacturing and selling remdesivir.
Ferozsons CEO Osman Khalid Waheed said that it would be the company’s aim to sell the drug at the least cost. The company said it will ensure to have sufficient quantities over time to serve the needs of the patients in Pakistan and countries abroad.
What is Remdesivir?
In April, Gilead received emergency authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration for using remdesivir as a treatment against COVID-19. The approval was the latest step in a global push to find viable treatments and a vaccine for the coronavirus.
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) conducted a trial involving over 100o people and said that patients on the drug made had a 31% faster time to recovery than those placed on a placebo.
This is not considered a miracle cure but could pave the way for better treatments. It was first developed to treat Ebola, a viral hemorrhagic fever, but did not boost survival rates as other medicines.
Ferozesons is among five firms to manufacture the drug apart from Indian firms the Cipla Limited, Hetero Labs Ltd, Jubilant Lifesciences and Mylan to manufacture the drug.
Under the licensing agreement, the five companies have the “right to receive a technology transfer of the Gilead manufacturing process for remdesivir to enable them to scale up their production quickly”, a statement from Gilead said.
The licences would be royalty-free until the World Health Organisation (WHO) declares the end of the public health emergency, or until another pharmaceutical product or a vaccine is approved to treat or prevent the disease.
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