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DOH says sourcing tocilizumab from other countries remains a challenge

Sourcing arthritis drug tocilizumab, which is used to treat COVID-19 patients, from other countries remains a “challenge” for the Department of Health, its spokesperson, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Saturday.

“It is really a challenge para sa atin itong gamot na to (for us to source) tocilizumab because there is a local shortage and dito sa atin wala rin tayong ganitong (and we don’t have a local) supply,” she said in a Dobol B TV interview.

She reiterated that the DOH is still negotiating with manufacturers outside the country for the supplies of tocilizumab.

While waiting for the replenishment, the DOH said other investigational medicines for COVID-19, such as remdisivir and baricitinib, can be used to treat patients who are positive for coronavirus.

Two weeks ago, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the DOH is expecting 10,000 vials of tocilizumab by the end of September.

Earlier, vaccine czar Sec. 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. —KG, GMA News