ISLAMABAD     -             Pakistan will soon start manufacturing breakthrough COVID-19 treatment drug Remdesivir under license from US pharmaceutical company Gilead, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza said on Friday.

Addressing a news conference in the capital Dr Mirza said a Pakistani pharmaceutical company has concluded its voluntary licensing agreement with the US pharmaceutical company – Gilead – for the manufacture and sale of the drug.  According to Dr Mirza, Pakistan is one of the five countries that the US Company has signed a licensing agreement with for manufacturing the drug. He further said that production of the medicine can commence as early as eight weeks from now, after the necessary regulatory approvals are obtained. According to the PM’s assistant this development represents an important step forward for Pakistan on health, economic and diplomatic fronts, it further helps provide the country’s citizens and frontline healthcare workers access to the latest treatment for the pandemic in a fast-tracked manner.

He said Pakistan will also be able to export the medicine to 127 countries facing the coronavirus pandemic. Dr Mirza added that it is a huge accomplishment for Pakistan that it is among the three countries that will produce Remdesivir — the only drug currently considered as a treatment for COVID-19.  He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had a conference call with the US-based Gilead Sciences Inc. regarding the drug, which will be produced by six companies globally.