WHO concerned over global shortage of Tocilizumab

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed their concern over the looming global shortage of Tocilizumab (brand name Actemra/RoActemra), which is used as a treatment for severe COVID-19 cases.

In a previous statement, the drug manufacturer – Roche has said that a global shortage of the drug will take place over the weeks and months ahead, despite production being ramped up.

“The unfortunate reality is that due to the unprecedented surge in worldwide demand -with US demand spiking to well-beyond 400% of pre-COVID levels over the last two weeks alone -we will experience shortages of Actemra/RoActemra globally over the weeks and months ahead. This is due to global manufacturing capacity limits, raw material supply constraints, the complex, labour-intensive process of manufacturing biologics and the dynamically evolving nature of the pandemic,” Roche had declared in a statement.

Responding, the WHO and global health agency – Unitaid had jointly said, “While we welcome and acknowledge that Roche has announced measures to address the shortage, we call on the company to ensure equitable allocation of current stocks of this medicine for all countries, including low- and middle-income countries.”

“In addition, WHO has issued a call for Expression of Interest to its Prequalification programme to expand the number of quality-assured manufacturers of the drug and thus to increase global supplies,” the statement adds.

“While we welcome and acknowledge that Roche has announced measures to address the shortage, we call on the company to ensure equitable allocation of current stocks of this medicine for all countries, including low- and middle-income countries,” it further notes.

Speaking earlier this week in Parliament, opposition leader of Sri Lanka – Sajith Premadasa revealed that there was a shortage of Tocilizumab in the local market and urged the government to ensure that it was available for critical Covid-19 patients.

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