One of Bangladesh’s largest drug manufacturers, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, will begin production of the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients. This move by the Bangladeshi Corporate giant comes in the wake of the rising number of positive Coronavirus cases in the country, which now standat about 12000. 

However, this is not the first time the company has ventured into drug production to treat COVID-19 patients. Just a month ago, Beximco Group, which is Co-founded by Salman F Rahman, one of the most successful businessmen in Bangladesh, had also developed Favipiravir, an antiviral drug that is being used by China. 

The antiviral drug, which was first developed by Gilead Sciences, has now garnered attention as a promising treatment for coronavirus. 

According to the Beximco’s Chief Operating Officer Rabbur Reza, a patient might require anywhere between 5 to 11 vials as the company plans to price the drug between 5,000 and 6,000 takas per vial. The production will begin this month, initially for domestic use, Reza added.

With countries across the world struggling to contain the pandemic that has now infected about 3.5 million people worldwide, initial studies come as a ray of hope. However, it is the effectiveness of drugs which would determine the appropriate prices. Beximco’s pricing indicates a course of remdesivir treatment could be anywhere around $295 and $781 per patient.

Economic viability

Although Gilead has exclusive patent rights on the drug, as per international trade rules of the United Nations, least-developed countries like Bangladesh are allowed to ignore such patents – to make drugs more economical.

We would cater to our countrymen first and then we can seek approval from the government to export the drug for emergencies if required, said Reza.

While the drug developed by Gilead Sciences may be considered as the most promising treatment, it may not be a foolproof plan as previously the drug didn’t prove effective for treating the Ebola virus. Nevertheless, data from a trial by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States showed remdesivir reduced hospitalization. This could encourage the commercial plans as Beximco expects to receive marketing approval by mid-May. “We’ll produce the drug depending on how much the Bangladesh government requires,” Reza told Reuters.

About Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd:

It is the pharmaceutical division of Beximco Group, which was founded in the 1970s by two brothers – Ahmed Sohail Fasihur Rahman and Salman Fazlur Rahman. Based in Dhaka, the pharmaceutical company caters to more than 10% of the country’s total medical needs and exports generic drugs to about 50 countries, which includes the US and the EU.

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