The Manila city government has purchased 2,000 vials of remdesivir, a drug used to treat coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) patients, the city mayor announced Thursday night (Aug. 13).
Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso said the antiviral drug can be used to treat close to 200 of the city's COVID-19 patients with mild, moderate, and severe symptoms.
Although it is not a guaranteed cure for the disease, there are studies that say it can help speed up the recovery of COVID-19 patients, Domagoso said.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo recently said there is "positive feedback" on remdesivir, based on the initial results of a World Health Organization (WHO)-led Solidarity Trial.
The medication reportedly reduced the length of illness from 15 to 11 days, Domingo said, citing the results of the trial where experts attempt to find an effective treatment for the disease.
"Medyo panatag ang loob ko na -- hopefully -- mas marami pang mag-survive sa COVID-19 kapag sila ay meron na (I feel assured that -- hopefully -- many more survive COVID-19 when they get the medicine)," Domagoso said in a live broadcast.
The local chief executive said administering remdesivir to patients is another of their bids to strengthen their fight against the pandemic.
"As we promised you, we will continue, in our own little way, na palakasin ang ating medical institution at i-empower ang ating mga doktor, mga nurse, and other medical frontliners (to strengthen our medical institutions and empower our doctors, nurses, and other medical frontliners)," he said.
"So that we can give more confidence to our doctors and medical health workers that, we are not only buying machines, building facilities, testing patients, placing them under quarantine, contact tracing, and conducting surveillance, we are also buying medicine that can possibly help patients recover faster," he said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Around P13 million was spent to procure the remdesivir from Mylan, the pharmaceutical firm that created the drug. The Manila mayor said they were able to buy each vial for P6,500, a lower cost than its original price of nearly P20,000.
Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna-Pangan, a doctor, said the medication is not available over-the-counter and was distributed to the city's six district hospitals.
These are the Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center in Tondo, Ospital ng Tondo, Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital in Binondo, Ospital ng Sampaloc, Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center in Malate, and Sta. Ana Hospital.
Domagoso said they will acquire more vials if needed.
"Kung saka-sakali kakailanganin pa, bibili pa po tayo, mapangalagaan lang namin kayo, mapataas lang namin ang probabilidad na kapag kayo ay na-infect ng COVID-19, kayo ay mag-recover (Should it be needed, we will buy more, just so we can take care of you, just so we can increase the probability that you will recover if you get infected with COVID-19)," he said.
The Manila city government earlier earmarked a budget of P200 million for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines once they are available.
Manila city government data showed that as of Aug. 11, there are 5,544 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Manila. Of this number, there are 1,005 active cases, 4,293 recoveries, and 246 deaths.