Pharma industry adjusts COVID-19 drug forecasting

THE pharmaceutical industry has made changes to its demand forecasting to improve the supply of drugs used to treat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in case of a surge caused by the Delta variant, an industry group said. 

Beaver Tamesis, president of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines, said that the industry is now using forward-looking projections instead of historical trends to secure supplies. 

“Hopefully, we are able to secure medicine supplies,” he said in a mobile message on Monday. 

The Philippines has reported 35 cases of the more transmissible Delta variant, prompting President Rodrigo R. Duterte to consider reimposing stricter restrictions. Three of the local cases have died. 

OCTA Research Group said that a surge caused by the Delta variant could match March levels, but noted that higher inoculation levels could mitigate the rise in cases. 

Amid peak COVID-19 levels in April, supply was slightly behind demand, Mr. Tamesis, said noting the need for better projections. 

Drug supplier Biocare Lifesciences, Inc. was caught off guard after India banned exports of remdesivir, an anti-viral drug originally made to treat hepatitis C. The company said the drug can be imported in specific quantities based on each compassionate special permit order from hospitals, with some failing to anticipate the surge at the time. 

India last month relaxed its remdesivir export policy, which means that special permissions for export will not be required. 

“Critical drugs in early hospitalization phase, remdesivir, oxygen supplies, well at least we are past the major crisis in India when they banned the export of the drug,” Mr. Tamesis said.  

Forecasting methods for tocilizumab, which is also used for COVID-19 patients, have been adjusted to “hopefully better anticipate demand,” he added.