Beximco introduces COVID-19 drug remdesivir

  • Staff Correspondent
    Published: 2020-05-21 17:47:02 BdST


Beximco Pharmaceuticals has delivered the first batch of remdesivir, an antiviral drug which has recently been authorised by the US for emergency use in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Officials of Beximco handed over the clinical sample of the medicine to Health Minister Zahid Malik at a ceremony in the ministry on Thursday.

“In the US, remdesivir is being used as an emergency treatment for patients with COVID-19. Beximco succeeded in producing the drug here in this region,” Malik told reporters.

“It will be administered to high-risk patients with terminal illnesses. It will be up to the doctors and experts to decide which patients will be treated with the medicine. We hope that this will help save lives.”

As things stand, there is no proven cure for the novel coronavirus infection that manifests with symptoms like pneumonia. But globally, different countries are using some drugs to treat its symptoms.

The government gave the green light to Square Pharma, Eskayef, Beacon, Beximco and Incepta Pharmaceuticals to start production of experimental drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, favipiravir and remdesivir.

“All medicines have some kind of effect on the patients, but none of them is a complete cure for the disease. The doctors have taken some medicines under their protocol,” said the health minister.

“I hope they’ll accept this as well.”

With the launch of remdesivir – which is being branded under the name of Bemsivir – Beximco Pharmaceuticals becomes the first company in the world to launch a generic version of the highly-anticipated drug, it said in a statement. It is also the first drug to be found effective in stopping the replication of SARS-CoV-2.

While handing over the first batch of medicine, Managing Director of Beximco Pharma Nazmul Hassan MP noted that all government hospital treat patients free of cost. “And therefore, we have decided to provide our medicines free of cost to all those severely ill patients of government hospitals.”

Originally developed by US-based Gilead Sciences, remdesivir is a direct-acting antiviral drug that inhibits viral RNA synthesis. Remdesivir is administered intravenously and has been authorised for the treatment of hospitalised patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms in the US.

Recent clinical trials have shown evidence that remdesivir helps COVID-19 patients recover faster. Japan has also granted special approval for the emergency use of remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients.

The emergency approvals will help broaden the use of remdesivir in hospitalised patients, especially in developing and least developed countries where access to breakthrough, advanced drugs remains a major challenge, according to Nazmul.

“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,” he said.

"This reinforces our commitment to play our part in ensuring access to breakthrough therapies despite facing many challenges amid this unprecedented pandemic. We express our gratitude to the regulatory authorities for extending their wholehearted support for making this potential drug available to our patients at the earliest possible time.”