Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday maintained that there is nothing irregular in the importation of remdesivir after two lawmakers questioned the decision of the Department of Health (DoH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow its use despite the absence of approval from the World Health Organization (WHO).
In an interview over DZMM, Duque assured that he is open to any investigation after AnaKalusugan partylist Representative Michael Defensor and Buhay partylist Representative Lito Atienza said DoH and FDA officials are liable of graft charges after authorizing the use of remdesivir against COVID-19.
“Yung sabi nilang may mananagot, okay yun wala namang problema yun, wala namang tinatago diyan. Kung magkaroon ng imbestigation, we welcome it, we will cooperate, so walang problema,” Duque said.
Duque explained that despite the WHO does not endorse the use of remdesivir against COVID-19, he stressed that the Philippine government has the discretion to authorize it.
“Well, unang-una, itong remdesivir, inaprubahan ito ng ating mga eksperto dito sa Pilipinas. Nagbigay ang mga eksperto rito ng opinion nakakatulong ito sa pangangasiwa ng severe to critical cases,” Duque added.
He added that hospitals are using remdesivir under the compassionate special permit issued by the FDA.
“Ang mga ospital ang bumibili. Hindi ang DoH ang bumibili ng remdesivir dahil sila ang may hawak ng compassionate special permit. So, correction, hindi ang DoH ang direktamenteng nag-iimport, kung sino ang may hawak ng pahintulot ng FDA,” he said.
Duque said that least 52 public hospitals are now using remdesivir for severe and critical COVID cases.
He noted that the DoH requested additional funding from the government but were distributed to the different public hospitals.
“Ito ay binaba sa mga hospital, sabi ko nga ito’y P3 billion to P5 billion per hospital, sila ang nag-aangkat, sila ang nakakapagsalba na buhay,” Duque said.
The DoH earlier warned about overpricing remdesivir, noting that a 100-milligram vial must only cost ₱1,500 to ₱8,200.