The Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Salas, explained on Saturday that the use of remdesivir as a treatment for patients with COVID-19 is not used as a short-term option in the country.
Remdesivir is an antiviral that prevents virus replication and has been used in other diseases such as Ebola, with high effectiveness, according to Salas. This drug was recently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for critically ill patients with the new coronavirus.
“There are a very large number of studies that are evaluating different types of drugs and that eventually some will be authorized and others will not. There is still not too strong evidence from studies done elsewhere that justly indicates all the possible effectiveness that remdesivir may have,” said Minister Salas.
The Minister indicated that the antiviral has some side effects that can be dangerous for patients.
“There is eventually a risk of kidney damage; This has been seen in some patients as one of the side effects, although there may be others. We in Costa Rica continue to assess all the evidence that is emerging and, depending on how solid it is and all the cases that follow, we can consider new treatments to be used in COVID-19 patients,” he said.
Another problem that the Minister of Health sees in the use of remdesivir is that, at the moment, it is not freely available for purchase.
Let’s also remember that this depends a lot on the availability of the drug itself. This medicine has not been released to the market before, it is not like others that have been used and that have been on the market for a long time. We always continue to wait, seeing the studies, the strength of use and the availability that we may have in this regard,” said Salas.
On this last point, Salas affirmed that it is an example of the proposal presented by Costa Rica to the World Health Organization (WHO), to release patents of the discoveries against COVID-19 and that all countries worldwide can freely use them.