Gilead Sciences Inc to ramp up production of experimental COVID-19 treatment with international partners

In a statement Gilead Sciences Inc, the maker of the closely-watched experimental coronavirus drug remdesivir stated, it will continue to work with international partners to expand the production of its potential COVID-19 treatment.

Gilead said, it expects to have more than one million remdesivir treatment courses manufactured by December, “with plans to be able to produce several million treatment courses in 2021.”

It expects to have manufactured sufficient quantities of the drug to treat more than 140,000 patients and plans on donating that supply to hospitals.

Gilead also said, it has been in constant dialogue with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about making remdesivir, which is given to hospitalized patients by intravenous infusion, available to patients as quickly as possible.

“There is a big sense of urgency here,” said Gilead’s CEO Daniel O’Day during a conference call with analysts, while adding, the FDA could issue an emergency use authorization for remdesivir, but it is also seeking standard regulatory approval for the drug.

O’Day declined to comment on whether Gilead plans to eventually profit from the COVID-19 treatment rather than just donate the treatment to hospitals. Gilead has made billions of dollars on its drugs for HIV and hepatitis C.

“There has been no other time like this in the history of the planet,” said O’Day.

According to a statement from the U.S. National Institutes of Health on Wednesday, preliminary results from its trial of remdesivir were promising and that COVID-19 patients that were treated with the drug recovered 31% faster than those given a placebo.

In the study, 1,063 patients who received remdesivir recovered in 11 days compared to 15 days for those who received a placebo.

While the data needs more analysis to know how the drug might work along with which patients need to be administered the drug, U.S. health officials have hailed it as highly significant since it clearly had an effect on the disease for which there are currently no approved treatments or vaccines.

More detailed results of the U.S. study are expected in June 2020. There are several other studies also looking at remdesivir for the coronavirus.

On Thursday, The European Medicines Agency stated, it had started a ‘rolling review’ of data on the use of Gilead’s antiviral drug for the treatment of COVID-19. The rolling review allows the agency to speed its assessment of promising experimental medicines during a public health emergency.

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