Bangladeshi firm makes generic remdesivir

A Bangladeshi company says it will sell a generic version of remdesivir at $A100 per vial.
A Bangladeshi company says it will sell a generic version of remdesivir at $A100 per vial.

A Bangladeshi company says it has produced the first generic version of the anti-viral drug remdesivir, which is currently being tested as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

"We have successfully completed all the steps in the manufacturing of remdesivir," Simeen Hossain, head of Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Bangladesh Limited, said on Friday about the production of the drug developed and patented by Gilead Sciences in the US.

The announcement comes as Gilead negotiates with pharmaceutical manufacturers in India and Pakistan over the production of remdesivir for developing countries.

Remivir, the brand name of remdesivir manufactured by Eskayef, will be available for use in hospitals "in a few days" after it has been approved by Bangladesh's regulator, the company's marketing chief Mujahidul Islam told DPA.

Eskayef is one of eight companies which the Bangladeshi government has approved to produce remdesivir, after the US Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorisation for the drug.

Bangladesh, as a UN Least Developed Country, is allowed to produce any patented medicine without obtaining prior permission under World Trade Organisation agreements.

Islam said that scientists began developing the drug in March, before it was clear that the US administration would approve production of the medicine.

"The tireless efforts of the Eskayef personnel in the past two months have made it possible to produce the drug within such a short time span," he said.

The company fixed the price of the drug at 5500 takas ($A100 ) per vial following consultation with the government.

Adults suffering from COVID-19 could need between 5 and 10 days of treatment, depending on how ill they are.

Bangladesh has 13,143 cases of the virus and reported a death toll of 206 on Friday.

Australian Associated Press