Gov’t vows to address shortage in COVID meds

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | September 02,2021 - 04:28 PM
Govt vows to address shortage in COVID meds

A pharmacist displays a box of tocilizumab, which is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, at the pharmacy of Cambrai hospital, France, April 28, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Local health officials here will be looking into reports of hoarding and price manipulation of medicines used to treat COVID-19.

The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) is set to meet with the regional offices of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), and the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) to address the concern.

“(We will) have to conduct a coordinative meeting with these agencies and there, this issue will be discussed,” said Dr. Guy Perez, assistant director for DOH-7, on Thursday, September 2.

Perez said they officially received the letter from the Emergency Operations. Center (EOC) of Cebu City, urging national government agencies here to prevent prices of drugs for treating COVID-19 from skyrocketing further.

DOH-7 on Thursday acknowledged that there was ‘quite a shortage’ of anti-COVID medicines in the city due to the surge of new infections.

“Our oxygen supply, we can assure you it’s stable. But in terms of medicines, and everybody already knows this, we have quite a shortage,” said Perez.

There have been reports of hoarding of COVID-19 medicines and price manipulation in Cebu City since it experienced a wave of new cases brought by the dreaded Delta variant of the virus, despite an existing price freeze order.

One of the highly sought out medications used to treat COVID-19 is the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab.

DOH classified it as an “investigational drug for COVID-19 management”.

Tocilizumab is usually administered to patients with severe to critical symptoms of the infection.

DOH, in its Department Memorandum No. 2021-0197 issued last May, stated that prices of 80 milligrams (mg) of tocilizumab should not exceed P8,811.11.

Larger volumes of the drug, weighing 400 mg or 20 milliliters (ml), have a price ceiling of P28,830.84.

Other investigational drugs used for COVID-19 treatment such as favipiravir and remdesivir are sold at a maximum price of P348.14 and P8,200 respectively.

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TAGS: COVID-19, DOH-7, Dr. Guy Perez, drugs shortage, drugs vs COVID-19, remdesivir, Tocilizumab

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