Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center announced the commencement of clinical trials for the use of the antiviral drug remdesivir to treat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Moreover, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the participation of Taiwan in U.S.-based studies led by National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH).
The Experimental Drug
Remdesivir, an experimental drug developed for Ebola by the University of Alabama, the U.S. NIAID, and Gilead Sciences, will be tested in Taiwan. The developmental drug has not received a drug permit license in Taiwan, but as long as individuals can be confirmed with the disease and meet certain requirements, they can be treated with the drug. Shih Chung-liang, (石崇良), director-general of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Department of Medical Affairs and a CECC official, noted that remdesivir may have a curative effect on COVID-19. Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung noted that Taiwan will participate in forthcoming multinational, multi-center clinical trials centering on remdesivir.
Other Drug Combinations in Taiwan
In addition to remdesivir, anti-HIV drugs combined with interferons will be tested on COVID-19 patients in Taiwan.
The Study Locations
The actual studies in Taiwan, still under the preliminary plan, reports that Taiwan News suggests that northern, central and southern Taiwan will have a designated hospital servicing as a clinical investigational site to take part in the studies.
Academia Sinica Efforts
In a lab study from Taiwan’s leading academic institution, Academia Sinica, announced on Facebook that they had managed to synthesize one gram of remdesivir at a 99 percent level of purity. The university researchers sought to better understand the drug and to not rush production as they seek to test and anticipate problems prior to manufacturing of the product. Academia Sinica President James C. Liao (廖俊智) noted that the achievement conveys the research center’s ability to execute drug synthesis operations.