WASHINGTON: Gilead Sciences has doubled its target and is now expecting to supply enough of its antiviral drug remdesivir by year-end to treat more than two million COVID-19 patients.
The company also hopes to start trials in August of an easier-to-use inhaled version of the medicine currently administered only intravenously.
Remdesivir is at the forefront in the fight against the virus after the drug helped shorten hospital recovery times in a clinical trial. It was granted emergency use authorisation in the United States and full approval in Japan.
The major concern has been producing and supplying billions of doses as the virus that has infected over nine million people globally threatens to overwhelm healthcare systems around the world.
“We will continue to collaborate globally to ensure sufficient worldwide supply,” Gilead Chief Executive Officer Daniel O’Day said in a statement, adding that the company donated its existing supplies of remdesivir through June.
Indian drugmakers Hetero Labs and Cipla gained approval to begin selling their generic versions of remdesivir in the country. Hetero expects the treatment to be priced at 5,000 to 6,000 Indian rupees (approx. $66-$79) for a 100-milligram dose.
Gilead said it had set up voluntary licensing agreements with nine generic manufacturers. Remdesivir has not been priced in the United States. The expectations of two million treatment courses suggests sales of between $2-3 billion between 2020 and 2021 at a price of $1,000 to $2,000 per course.
An inhaled formulation of the drug will be administered via a nebulizer which would allow for use outside hospitals. The company also announced plans for a “next wave” of remdesivir studies, including pregnant women and outpatient settings such as infusion centers and nursing homes.
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