PATIENTS with more serious symptoms of COVID-19 will receive Remdesivir for treatment free of charge when admitted to health facilities.
The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumni Shangula said that Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine used in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
“It has been shown to shorten the time of recovery in patients. The new medicine is part of our essential medicines and will be procured in the same manner as all other medicines,” he said.
According to Dr. Shangula consignments of the medicine have already been distributed to hospitals and will be prescribed by doctors for the treatment of symptomatic COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Executive Director of the health ministry, Petronella Masabane indicated that the Government acquired a generic version of the medicine from Jubilant Generics, an Indian pharmaceutical company that manufactures it under license from the developers, Gilead.
“Asymptomatic patient typically needs six vials of the drug but in severe cases, up to 12 vials can be administered over a ten-day period,” she said.
Masabane reiterated that state patients will still be required to pay a flat rate of N$4 for a visit to a clinic, N$8 for a visit to a health centre, and N$15 for a visit to a hospital.
She gave the assurance that patients will receive inclusive treatment and that no services will be denied if the patient cannot pay immediately.
Masabane said that the private sector normally does its own procurement of medicine but that the state has an agreement in place where life-saving medicines is shared where and when needed.
She made it clear that the generic version of Remdesivir is not an experimental medicine and that Namibians will not be used as test subjects.
“Gilead only sells the branded medicine to developed countries at a price of US$390 per vial,” she said.
She said the pharmaceutical company has licensed five other companies to manufacture the generic version of the medicine. The sale of the generic version of the medicine is not allowed in developed regions of the world.