A local Pakistani company will manufacture Remdesivir, an international drug being used to treat coronavirus patients, in less than two months, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza announced as five companies in the world were granted the license to manufacture the medicine.
“American company Gilead has manufactured this drug and it has proven effective in treating coronavirus patients,” he said during a press conference. “It is said that the use of the drug has reduced the intensity of the virus by 30%.”
“Among the five companies [granted the license to manufacture the drug] one of them is a Pakistani company,” he said, referring to it as a “breakthrough news”.
He said that the medicine will be available for COVID-19 patients in Pakistan after it is registered within six to eight weeks and manufactured in the country.
“It will not only be available for patients in Pakistan but the plan is to export this drug to 127 countries,” he said. “Pakistan will be among three countries in the world to produce and export this to 127 countries. This is a big breakthrough and this is big news for coronavirus patients in Pakistan, who are increasing by the day and are expected to increase more.”
Ferozsons Laboratories Limited CEO Osman Khalid Waheed said that it would be the company’s aim to sell the drug at the least cost, The News reported.
Adviser to the PM for Commerce, Textile and Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood said that it was a proud moment for Pakistan and the country’s pharmaceutical industry that a Pakistani company had been made the licensee of the coronavirus drug.
He said that it was the government’s aim to diversify exports and that included pharmaceuticals. “It is not only good news for the people of Pakistan but for countries around the world.”
‘FREE CORONAVIRUS VACCINE’:
Meanwhile, PM Imran Khan has joined the more than 140 signatories of a letter saying any vaccine for COVID-19 should not be patented and the science should be shared among nations.
The World Health Assembly, the policy-setting body of the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO), holds its annual general meeting next week.
The signatories, which include incumbent and former world leaders, called on the World Health Assembly (WHA) to rally behind the cause.
“Governments and international partners must unite around a global guarantee which ensures that, when a safe and effective vaccine is developed, it is produced rapidly at scale and made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge,” the letter said.
“The same applies to all treatments, diagnostics, and other technologies for COVID-19.”
The letter was signed by Senegalese President Macky Sall and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo. Former presidents and premiers among the signatories included Shaukat Aziz, Jan Peter Balkenende, Jose Manuel Barroso, Gordon Brown, Helen Clark, Felipe Gonzalez, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Aleksander Kwasniewski, Mary McAleese, Olusegun Obasanjo and Juan Manuel Santos.
The letter comes amid fury in France after French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said it would reserve the first shipments of any COVID-19 vaccine for the United States (US).
The multinational’s chief executive Paul Hudson said the US would get first dibs because its government was helping to fund the vaccine research, drawing outrage from officials and health experts.
The letter ahead of the WHA said it was not the time to leave the task of resolving the pandemic to market forces or let the interests of wealthy companies and governments come before the need to save lives.