DOH urged to look for alternatives to tocilizumab amid supply issue

September 11, 2021 Jester P. Manalastas 256 views

A lawmaker appealed to the Department of Health (DOH ) and medical experts to look for possible alternatives to Tocilizumab, a known drug being used to treat COVID-19 patients.

House Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Representtaive . B ernadette Herrera said the DOH needs to work double time in finding cost-effective alternatives to tocilizumab
Reports said that Tocilizumab is currently out of supply in the market, local and abroad.

“Time is of the essence. We cannot afford to lose more of our kababayans to COVID-19. We need more alternative treatments to the virus that has already infected over 2.1 million and claimed the lives of more than 34,000 people in the country,” Herrera said.

Tocilizumab, with the brand name Actemra produced by pharmaceutical firm Roche, is one of few treatments that have been shown to improve mortality in patients with COVID-19, but increased demand has led to relative global shortages.

The global shortage of tocilizumab continued to drag on due to unprecedented surge in worldwide demand and supply constraints driven by delta variant spikes in much of the rest of the world.

Roche Philippines earlier said it had to raise its supply to 5,000 percent to address the needs of COVID-19 patients in the Philippines.

Despite this, the pharmaceutical firm said it is still experiencing shortage of tociluzumab, which could last until December 2021.

Herrera also urged the DOH, the Department of Trade and Industry and law enforcement agencies to intensify their crack down on profiteers who are selling tocilizumab at inflated prices.

There were reports that some individuals are selling vials of tocilizumab for P50,000 to P100,000, which is way beyond the maximum retail price of P13,000 to P25,000 per vial set by the government.