Indonesian pharmaceutical company PT Kalbe Farma is collaborating with India’s PT Amarox Pharma Global to launch antiviral drug Covifor (Remdesivir) for COVID-19 treatment in the Southeast Asian country.
Amarox Pharma Global is a subsidiary of Hetero, one of India’s leading generic pharmaceutical companies and the world’s largest producer of antiretroviral drugs. It is the first company to receive the Emergency Use Authorization approval for Remdesivir from the Indonesian Food and Drug Authority.
“The drugs are ready to be distributed across the country starting today,” said Vidjongtius, president director of Kalbe Farma, during a virtual press conference on Thursday.
The authorization is for treatment of COVID-19 in adults and adolescents (age 12 and older with body weight at least 40 kg) hospitalized with severe disease.
Covifor will be distributed to referral hospitals that treat virus patients as it is meant for emergency use only.
The price will be set at 3 million Rupiah ($202) per vial (small container to store liquid medication), and could be even cheaper if the volume of imports is increased.
Sundeep Sur, the country manager of Amarox Pharma, said the company would prepare supplies as per Indonesian needs.
“Currently the minimum supply to Indonesia is around 200,000 to 300,000 vials, and it could be increased,” he said.
Hetero secured a license to produce Remdesivir in 127 countries including Indonesia in May 2020 to expand access to COVID-19 treatment. It claims to have supplied around 800,000 doses of the drug to more than 100,000 patients.
Erlina Burhan, a pulmonologist, said Covifor would first be tested on 25 COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms at Jakarta’s Persahabatan Hospital.
According to her, Remdesivir prevents the patient’s condition from getting worse.
Remdesivir has previously been found to be effective in treating Ebola patients, and has been tested for COVID-19 in many countries.
The trial will be carried out on virus patients aged over 18 with severe symptoms, oxygen saturation below 94%, and using a mechanical ventilator.
The drug, however, is said to have side effects, especially on kidneys and liver. Therefore, patients with a history of abnormalities in both organs will not participate in the clinical trials.
Erlina hopes the use of Remdesivir will increase the recovery rate of COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms.
Indonesia reported a total of 291,182 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 10,856 deaths so far.
*Writing by Maria Elisa Hospita from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language service in Jakarta
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