Fighting COVID-19: Here’s how US plans to distribute Gilead's remdesivir in its states
The United States would receive about 40% of the drug maker's global donation. The country is sending remdesivir to local agencies in Illinois, Iowa, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would soon allow state health departments to distribute Gilead Sciences Inc's remdesivir drug to fight COVID-19, and the United States would receive about 40% of the drug maker's global donation. The drug has shown promise in helping patients infected with the novel coronavirus and is being closely watched on how the limited supply is distributed.
Gilead has committed to supply approximately 607,000 vials of remdesivir over the next six weeks in the United States, and the country’s state health departments will distribute the doses to appropriate hospitals in their states, HHS said.
Remdesivir -- which previously failed as a treatment for Ebola -- is being tried against COVID-19 because it is designed to disable the mechanism by which certain viruses, including the new coronavirus, make copies of themselves and potentially overwhelm their host’s immune system.
Interest in remdesivir has been high as there are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19. Doctors are desperate for anything that might alter the course of the disease that attacks the lungs and can shut down other organs in extremely severe cases.
Last Friday, the US Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use authorization for the drug for patients with severe COVID-19, clearing the way for broader use in more hospitals around the United States. Data has shown Gilead's antiviral drug remdesivir helped to reduce hospital stays for COVID-19 patients.
Gilead Chief Executive Dan O'Day said in late April that Gilead would donate 1.5 million doses and work with the US government on distribution.
On Saturday, HHS said the 1.5 million doses were a global figure and that 607,000 would be distributed through the agency.
The allocation by Gilead Sciences to the United States was finalized on May 3, HHS said.
The US is sending the drug remdesivir to local agencies in Illinois, Iowa, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey.
The Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) on Thursday said it is asking for more information on the federal government's plan for deciding how and where to distribute the drug.
The federal government began distributing the drug this week but doctors across the country, particularly in COVID-19 hotspots like New York and Boston, became concerned after being denied their request to obtain the new therapy, IDSA president Dr Thomas File said, Reuters reported.
The IDSA on Wednesday called on the Trump administration to explain how it will ensure equitable distribution of remdesivir to states and hospitals based on COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates.
More than 4 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 279,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University tally.
Gilead had also said earlier that it was negotiating long-term licenses with several generic drugmakers in India and Pakistan to produce remdesivir for developing countries and that it would provide technology to aid the production.
One of Bangladesh's largest drugmakers, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, will start remdesivir production this month, Reuters had reported, citing a senior company executive.
Gilead said it was working to build a consortium of manufacturing partners to help maximize global supply of the drug, which requires scarce raw materials and specialized manufacturing capabilities with limited global capacity.
The company also said it was in advanced talks with UNICEF to deliver remdesivir using the agency's distribution networks.