Manufacturing Roche's Actemra may see high demand and short supply...

Roche’s Actemra may see high demand and short supply due to COVID delta variant

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The infused form of Genentech’s arthritis drug, tocilizumab (Roche Actemra), which is being used as a therapy for severe COVID-19 cases, is running short of supply in the U.S.  

According to the drugmaker, Roche Actemra IV’s demand ramped up during the recent COVID-19 wave caused by the highly contagious delta variant of the virus. Considering only the last two weeks, the demand for the drug took flight to reach up to 400% as compared to the pre-COVID days, and is still increasing.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in June, issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) of Actemra IV only for the treatment of COVID patients. Unfortunately, the 200 mg and 400 mg dose formulations of the drug are already out of stock in the United States for the time being, and now it is running out of the 80 mg dose supply as well, said the biotech.

However, Roche Actemra injectable form that is solely used as a therapy for arthritis and other inflammatory-related conditions, are still available in the market, it further added.

The end of this month awaits further shipments of the drug. Roche Actemra subsidiary, Genentech, stated, “However, if the pandemic continues to spread at its current pace, we anticipate additional periods of stockout in the weeks and months ahead.”

The FDA said that the infused form of the drug is being used as a therapy for COVID-stricken people who are receiving systemic corticosteroids and need supplemental oxygen, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or mechanical ventilation. Hence, it is only authorized for the hospitalized patients and not the outpatients.  

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