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DOH facing challenges in sourcing tocilizumab


The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said it is facing challenges in sourcing tocilizumab, a drug used off-label in treating COVID-19 patients.

“Talagang nahihirapan po tayo mag-source out ngayon ng [We are really having a hard time sourcing out] tocilizumab,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing, noting that there is a global shortage of the drug.

“Tayo ay sumulat na sa embassy natin ng Switzerland and United States para magpatulong tayo if we can be provided that reserve na allocation, kahit man lang a portion of what should be given to other countries ay makahingi tayo,” she added.

(We wrote to our embassies in Switzerland and the United States to seek help if we can be provided with even just a portion of their reserve allocations.)

Vergeire said experts from the Living Clinical Practice Guidelines group are studying possible alternatives to tocilizumab but added that these would need approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Meanwhile, stocks of remdesivir, another drug used off-label on COVID-19 patients, are currently sufficient.

“Meron pa po tayong mga stocks sa ibang ospital natin dito sa ating bansa [We still have stocks in the different hospitals] and we don’t see any problems with remdesivir currently because we have a direct line also with the supplier,” Vergeire said.

The Philippines is grappling with a renewed uptick in infections, driven partially by the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant that has become the dominant variant in the country. 

The country logged a record-high 22,366 new cases on Monday afternoon, pushing the caseload to over 1.97 million with 1.79 million recoveries and 33,330 deaths. —KBK, GMA News

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