The Department of Health (DOH) is expecting 10,000 vials of the drug tocilizumab, which is used to treat COVID-19 patients, by the end of September, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Saturday.
“By September, sana bago magtapos, ‘yung isang drug company ay makakapagangkat ng 10,000 vials. Let’s cross our fingers na sana ito ay matuloy na,” Duque said in an interview on Dobol B TV.
(By September, we hope before the month ends, one drug company could import 10,000 vials. Let's cross our fingers that the shipment will push through.)
He said that the DOH was continuously seeking supplies of tocilizumab and the government had been coordinating with the ambassador of Switzerland.
Roche, a pharmaceutical company that manufactures tocilizumab, is based in Switzerland.
While there was a shortage in the supply of tocilizumab, Duque said there were other drugs that could be used as substitute medication for COVID-19, such as baricitinib.
“Mayroon tayong substitute na gamot habang nagaantay ng tocilzumab. Ito yung baricitinib. Ang gamot, ang epekto halos kapareha… halos magsingbisa din,” Duque said.
(We can use baricitinib as a substitute drug while waiting for tocilizumab. This has the same effect and almost the same efficacy.)
Meanwhile, Duque said the country had a sufficient supply of remdisivir until December.
Early this week, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. admitted that the Philippines could not replenish stocks of tocilizumab due to a shortage in global supply.
The DOH earlier said the global supply of tocilizumab was expected to remain limited until December this year. — DVM, GMA News