Kenya to get doses of drug that shortens Covid-19 recovery time

Thursday July 09 2020

Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid drug used to treat various conditions including allergies and asthma. Kenya is expected to receive the drug that has been found to shorten the recovery period of Covid-19 patients. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By Elizabeth Merab

Kenya is expected to receive a new drug that has been found to shorten the recovery period of Covid-19 patients.

Remdesivir, a drug developed to treat Ebola, was approved for emergency use on Covid-19 patients two months ago.

It is one of the two drugs that can work against the virus.

The other drug is dexamethasone.


Remdesivir is in high demand after it helped shorten hospital recovery times in clinical trials.


It is said to be more effective in treating Covid-19 in its earlier stages than other therapies like the steroid dexamethasone.

Because it is given intravenously for at least five days, the drug is being used on people who require hospital admission.


Kenya is among 126 low-income and lower-middle-income countries identified by Gilead Sciences to receive generic versions of the drug. It will be made by five companies licensed to produce it for developing countries.

The European Commission on Friday said it has given conditional approval for the use of Remdesivir in severe Covid-19 patients following an accelerated review. It made it the region’s first Covid-19 therapy.

The approval to obtain doses for the 27 European Union countries expanded the global use of the drug after the United States cleared it for emergencies.

Remdesivir has also been approved as Covid-19 therapy in Japan, Taiwan, India, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.


The drug, which was trialled for Ebola but failed to work as expected, is under patent to Gilead.

That means no other company in wealthy countries can produce it.

However, through a non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreement, pharmaceutical manufacturers in India and Pakistan can produce and sell the treatment at a substantially lower cost,” Gilead said in a statement.

“Cipla Ltd, Ferozsons Laboratories, Hetero Labs Ltd, Jubilant Lifesciences and Mylan will make Remdesivir for distribution in low-income and lower-middle-income countries as well as several upper-middle and high-income countries that face health-care obstacles as a result of the pandemic,” Gilead Science posted on its website.


Under the agreements, the firms have a right to technology transfer from Gilead to enable them to produce the drug quickly.

Generics are copies of brand-name drugs that have the same dosage, intended use, effects, side effects, administration routine, risks, safety and strength as the original.

“The licences are royalty-free until the WHO declares the end of the public health emergency of international concern regarding Covid-19, or until a pharmaceutical product other than Remdesivir or a vaccine is approved to treat or prevent coronavirus,” Gilead said.