Tocilizumab drug, a saving grace for critically ill Covid-19 patients cannot be found in the Kenyan market despite its high demand as the pandemic continues wreaking havoc.
Produced by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, the drug comes in hand for adults suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The drug can also help Covid-19 patients by reducing ventilation demand, and increasing survival chances.
Its shortage within the country may pose a great challenge to the Covid-19 battle, especially when various Covid-19 variants have continued emerging.
Covid-19 critical cases have continued soaring high, yet the number of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds available has kept decreasing.
The few private hospitals having the drug are selling it at high costs, making it unaffordable to many. Close sources indicated how some hospitals were charging as much as Sh0.2 million per dose, yet a patient requires two doses.
Kenyans recently took to Twitter to express their frustrations over the drug's shortage. They further sought online help as to where and how they can get the drug.
"A friend is in ICU and we need the drug. We can’t seem to get it," tweeted one Kenyan. Kenya had been chosen as one of the countries piloting the drug use in treating Covid-19 critical cases.
The trial treatments are being conducted by the Aga Khan University Hospital. Responding to the scarcity issues, Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) CEO Fred Siyoi noted that the vaccine was becoming scarce globally.
Siyoi further added that nations manufacturing such were intentionally withholding them for their citizens. As of yesterday, for instance, 236 patients were in ICU, and in great need of oxygen.
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