Epidemiologists say excess mortality - deaths from all causes that exceed the five-year average for the time of year - is the best way of gauging deaths from a disease outbreak because it is internationally comparable (Photo: DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images).

One of Bangladesh largest drugmakers, Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd, will start production this month of the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir, which has shown promise in fighting the new coronavirus, a senior company executive said on Tuesday (5).

Remdesivir, a drug developed by Gilead Sciences, has grabbed attention as one of the most promising treatments for Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 250,000 people.

US drug authorities granted emergency use authorisation last week, paving the way for its broader use across US hospitals, after Gilead provided data showing the drug helped to improve survival rates for Covid-19 patients.

The company plans to price the drug, which is given via intravenous infusion, at between £47-£57 per vial, Beximco’s Chief Operating Officer Rabbur Reza told, adding a patient might need anywhere between five and 11 vials.

“We will only know exactly how much a patient needs once studies are complete,” Reza said. He said production would begin this month, initially for domestic use only.

Beximco’s pricing indicates a course of remdesivir treatment could cost anywhere between -£236 and £626 per patient in the south Asian country depending on the severity of the case, the number of vials required and the final pricing of the drug.

The figures are a first indication of how the potentially life-saving drug will be priced, as countries around the world struggle to control the pandemic.

Gilead has donated an initial batch of 1.5 million vials of the drug to help patients in the US, but has yet to announce its pricing.

The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), which assesses the effectiveness of drugs to determine appropriate prices, put the cost of producing a 10-day course of remdesivir at £8. It suggested the price could rise to £3606 based on patient benefits shown in clinical trials.

(Reuters)

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