DOH having ‘challenges’ in stock of tocilizumab

Published August 31, 2021, 3:40 PM

by Analou de Vera


The Department of Health (DOH) said it is currently facing challenges in sourcing anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab which is being used in treating coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.

“For tocilizumab we’re having challenges sa ngayon (right now),” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in an online forum on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

“Kausap natin yung manufacturers and even across the globe nagkakaroon na ng kompetisyon at tayo ay sumulat na sa embassy natin ng Switzerland and United States para magpatulong tayo if we can be provided that reserve na allocation, kahit man lang a portion of what should be given to other countries ay makahingi tayo—para mabigyan ang ating bansa dahil talagang nahihirapan po tayo mag-source out ngayon ng tocilizumab. (We are in talks with the manufacturers. Even across the globe there is already competition. We already wrote to our embassies in Switzerland and the United States to ask for help if we can be provided with even just a portion of their reserve allocations because it is really difficult for us to source out tocilizumab now),” she added.

Meanwhile, some hospitals in the country still have sufficient supply of remdesivir, an antiviral drug that is also being used in treating COVID-19 patients.

“Sa remdesivir meron pa tayong stocks sa mga ospital natin dito sa ating bansa (When it comes to remdesivir, we still have stocks in our hospitals here in our country),” said Vergeire.

“We don’t see any problems with remdesivir currently because we have a direct line also with the supplier,” she added.

On Monday, Aug. 30, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City announced that it shall “temporarily suspend the dispensing of remdesivir and tocilizumab as these life-saving drugs have already reached ‘critical stock level’ at the NKTI pharmacy.”