South Africa’s biggest private hospital groups have obtained supplies of Indian drug manufacturer Cipla’s cut-price generic version of the coronavirus drug remdesivir, which speeds up recovery in severely ill patients. However, reports Business Day, a question mark hangs over whether state patients will benefit as the company is yet to receive orders from provincial health departments.
Governments around the world have been scrambling to secure supplies of remdesivir despite its lukewarm reception from experts, as Gilead Sciences, which holds the patent on remdesivir, has earmarked almost all its stock for the US. Gilead has granted non-exclusive manufacturing licences to several generic pharmaceutical companies, including Cipla, which has a well-established presence in South Africa.
According to Business Day, Cipla SA CEO Paul Miller said that the company would sell remdesivir at the same price to state and private sector patients in South Africa, at $55 a shot, or $330 (R5,684) for a five-day course. This is markedly lower than the $520 per vial price tag set by Gilead for US patients with private insurance.
“Most private hospitals have placed orders, including Mediclinic, Life Healthcare and Netcare,” said Miller. But no provincial health departments have yet placed orders, he said.
The report says Cipla’s remdesivir has yet to be registered with South Africa’s medicines regulator, the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority, but doctors may prescribe it in terms of section 21 of the Medicines and Related Substances Act.
Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS), the biggest on the open market, said it would fund treatment with remdesivir for eligible patients.
[link url="https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/health/2020-08-03-ciplas-generic-covid-19-drug-lands-in-sa-but-the-state-isnt-buying-it/"]Full Business Day report[/link]