The off-label drug Tocilizumab, which has been used for months now in the treatment of patients with Covid19, is now in short supply. This scarcity is expected to last all the way to December, local manufacturer Roche Phils. has already informed the Department of Health (DOH). According to health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, alternatives are already being looked for by the government.
“We had a discussion with the manufacturer Roche Philippines and they already gave us the declaration,” Vergeire said. “Until the end of the year, it seems, we’ll be having a hard time accessing these drugs.”
Tocilizumab is generally helpful for easier blood flow. This is achieved through the swelling in blood vessels being reduced considerably. It is usually used for rheumatoid arthritis, interstitial lung disease and cytokine release syndrome.
It was granted an EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) for coronavirus treatment earlier this year.
At present, the DOH is trying to find “re-purposed drugs” to fill the void. “We are looking for investigational drugs from other sources,” Vergeire shared. In some hospitals, Covid19 patients end up using Baricitinib drugs.
The shortage isn’t exclusive to the Philippines or Asia; it is a global concern.
Covid19 cases worldwide are rising again with the new highly-contagious variants. In the Philippines, the Delta variant in particular has been causing record-breaking case counts daily.
Recently, the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) appealed to Roche regarding more supplies. FDA chief Eric Domingo said tocilizumab has been included in drugs under emergency use that can apply for a certificate of product registration.
Domingo recently said in Tagalog during a televised briefing that there is already another distributor who applied. Biocare Lifesciences Inc. apparently started distributing their tocilizumab product Temziva locally back in April of this year. Their application has already been approved for more supplies of the drug to arrive.