The first batch of the antiviral drug Remdesivir is expected to arrive in the island next week, says Director of Health Services and Planning in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Nadine Williams.
The move follows Jamaica’s approval of the drug for the treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in the public health system.
It will only be administered to patients who have been hospitalised and have consented to receive it, and only under the controls of a study or emergency licence authorisation.
Speaking at the Ministry’s digital press conference on Thursday (October 15,) Dr. Williams pointed out that while the drug has not yet received full approval in any country, and clinical trials are still ongoing, Jamaica decided to procure a small amount of the drug because reports have indicated that it has benefits in the treatment of COVID-19.
“This drug has shown in one of the trials that have been done to have some evidence on the recovery time. It was said that it reduced the recovery time by five days and that there is some effect on the mortality rate. That is reduced by four per cent, and if used early enough in the course of the disease, it could reduce the likelihood of progress or the progression rate from the moderately ill to the critically ill,” she noted.
Further, she said that it is important to have a drug in stock, which has some benefits, in case a physician requests it.
Dr. Williams said that the side-effect profile and drug-to-drug interaction are still incomplete, “so we would have some caution in the use with other drugs”.
She emphasised that it will only be used under strict conditions, and administered to a confirmed COVID-19 patient, who has been hospitalised and can get an intravenous (IV) drug or is under the care of a licensed clinician and is being constantly monitored.
“Informed consent must be obtained. That is absolutely important, and so a doctor has to explain what it is they are wanting to achieve, what are some of the side effects of the drug, and the patient must give their consent,” she noted.
Additionally, she said the patient has to be monitored and there must be the reporting on the outcome of the drug.