As the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States nears the three million-mark, the country has purchased almost the entire worldwide stock of remdesivir — one of the two drugs being used in the treatment of coronavirus patients.
In a deal brokered with the drug’s sole manufacturer Gilead Sciences Inc, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was able to secure more than 500,000 treatment courses. This represents 100 per cent of the US-based pharmaceutical companies’ projected production for July, and 90 per cent of its production for August and September, a statement released by the HHS read.
“President Trump has struck an amazing deal to ensure Americans have access to the first authorised therapeutic for COVID-19,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “To the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs remdesivir can get it. The Trump Administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapeutics for COVID-19 and secure access to these options for the American people.”
This comes two days after Gilead Sciences announced its pricing plan for the much-talked-about antiviral drug. The drugmaker said the treatment would cost $2,340 per patient for wealthier nations, and added that nearly all of its supply would be sold to the United States over the next three months, Reuters reported.
Initially developed to treat Ebola, remdesivir is the first drug which appeared to effectively help patients recover from the illness faster during clinical trials. In May, the drug received emergency authorisation from the US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Covid patients.
Gilead Sciences has announced that it has entered into agreements with manufacturers across the world to make the drug available at a “substantially lower cost” in developing countries, CNBC reported. The company has said that it is still studying the potential of the anti-viral drug, and expects to invest more than $1 billion in research as well as production.