Shortage of remdesivir drives Taiwan to consider using alternative drug

As remdesivir has reportedly been in great demand in US, Taiwan only received 78 doses out of 2,000-dose order

  3905
dexamethasone (Wikipedia photo)

dexamethasone (Wikipedia photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Faced with a shortage of remdesivir, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said on Monday (Aug. 3) that it is considering the adoption of dexamethasone as an alternative drug, indicating that it may include it in the treatment guidelines for Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.

In order to ensure that COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms can be treated with remdesivir in the event of a second wave of the virus, the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of remdesivir at the end of May, ordering 2,000 doses to be delivered before the end of July, per CNA.

As remdesivir has reportedly been in great demand in the U.S., Taiwan only received 78 doses out of the 2,000-dose order, causing public health concerns.

The U.S. government announced at the end of June that it would purchase 500,000 doses of remdesivir, an amount equal to Gilead Sciences Inc.’s total output for July, August, and September.

CECC spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that Taiwan’s current remdesivir stock of 328 doses is sufficient to provide for 54 patients with severe symptoms and that it will be adequate unless serious community transmission occurs, especially among the elderly.

Even though remdesivir is not readily available due to its limited supply, a new international study found that dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, also has a salutary effect on severe pneumonia. It is expected to be used as an alternative to remdesivir, Chuang said, adding that experts will convene on Tuesday to discuss whether to include the drug in the newest COVID-19 treatment guidelines.