Sometimes it seems like promising news has to come with a catch. The latest COVID-19 treatment in Canada is a medical breakthrough, and could change the way the country fights the pandemic. However, the nation's top doctor has said that it will be limited.
In a July 28 press conference, Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, was asked about remdesivir, a drug that was recently given approval by Health Canada for treating COVID-19 patients in hospitals.
While she noted that the drug was conditionally approved to treat the most severe cases of the virus, she also said that it will not be highly accessible.
Dr. Tam said that the drug will not be something that "people can go out and access by themselves," and that even getting it in a hospital would be difficult.
"The Public Health Agency will be linking with the manufacturer to look at supplies," Dr. Tam said, "Quite frankly though, supply is very limited globally from this company."
She did say that she believes the company will begin to "accelerate its capacity" in producing remdesivir, but added, "the bottom line is that the supply is not plentiful."
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Some Canadian patients have already been able to access the drug through early access programs and two clinical trials have been approved for remdesivir in the country, Dr. Tam said.
She was also asked about the cost of the drug, but couldn't offer any concrete details.
"I am aware that some of these medications and drugs are going to cost a fair amount of money," Dr. Tam said, "but I think in the negotiation processes you have to look at access as well as what would be a reasonable price, so all of that will be taken into account."
The chief public health officer could not offer any solid remarks in regards to adverse side effects, but said she believed Health Canada had determined that the benefits outweigh the negatives of the drug.
She also noted a second time that remdesivir would only be used in closely monitored situations, and would not be taken as an outpatient treatment.