Private sector tapped to source alternative drugs vs COVID-19

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2021 02:08 PM

MANILA— The Department of Health said Saturday it has tapped the private sector to help source supplies of the drug Baricitinib as stocks of experimental COVID-19 drug Tocilizumab are expected to be scarce until the end of the year. 

In a public press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the drug, originally used for arthritis, has a certificate of product registration in the country and is used in other facilities. 

"'Yung Baricitinib may CPR ito at nagagamit na ng ibang facilities natin, may pakikipag-usap din sa private sector, tinutulungan nila tayo na mag-source out ng gamot sa ibang bansa. So hopefully in the coming weeks matulungan tayo ng private sector with these supplies," Vergeire said in a public press briefing. 

(Baricitinib has a certificate of product registration and is being used in other facilities. We are talking with the private sector to source this out from overseas.) 

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Hospitals have run out of the COVID-19 drug Tocilizumab, mainly used to treat severe and critical COVID-19 patients, with some sellers allegedly hoarding the drug and selling it for as high as P130,000 online— far from its P13,000 to P25,000 suggested retail price. 

Drug manufacturer Roche said the shortage will run until the end of the year, prompting DOH to look for alternatives. 

The government previously said it was cracking down on people selling overpriced Tocilizumab, with Vergeire warning that fines and imprisonment await those found engaged in such business.