LAHORE: Punjab on Friday ran out of Actemra injections, which had reportedly given ‘encouraging’ results in highly critical coronavirus patients. The administration hopes to get fresh supplies early next week.

The injections are under trial in the province after initial reports that it was effective in treating the virus, but only on highly critical patients. These reports prompted the provincial government to hold trials and further observe the drug behavior.

As the word spread about the positive result and government’s decision to further study the drug, it typically ran out supplies. Even the official stocks ran dry on Friday but the Punjab officials claimed that they had spoken to the manufacturer and fresh supplies should arrive in the next three to four days.

Meanwhile, on the direction of the Cabinet Committee, an important meeting presided over by Chief Secretary Punjab Jawwad Rafique Malik was held to review the clinical trial of drug Actemra for use by seriously-ill Covid-19 patients in the province.

Health experts informed the chief secretary that the initial trial of the drug Actemra had been conducted at the PKLI and Mayo and Services hospital and the medicine showed positive results, which were further being evaluated. They said the drug could only be given to critically-ill patients with specific symptoms on the advice of doctors whereas ordinary coronavirus patients would not be allowed to use it.

Experts added that recommendations on the use of the drug would be submitted to the Cabinet Committee and after final approval, it could be administered to critical patients with specific symptoms on the prescription of doctors.

The chief secretary said all possible assistance would be provided to the experts for the clinical trial.Additional Chief Secretary Home Momin Agha, Secretary of the Specialized Healthcare Nabil Awan, Commissioner of Lahore Saif Anjum, Lahore CCPO Zulfiqar Hameed, Corona Expert Advisory Group Chairman Prof Mahmood Shaukat, Member Prof Javed Hayat, Mayo CEO Prof Asad Aslam Khan, PKLI Director Dr Tazeen Zia and officers concerned attended the meeting.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2020