U.S Drug Company Gilead, Increases Production of Antiviral Drug Remdesivir

New York: Amid positive results from two trials of investigational antiviral drug remdesivir on hospitalised COVID-19 patients, its US-based maker Gilead Sciences has said it is ramping up production of the drug and by year end it should have enough supplies for treating over 1 million patients.

“We’ve significantly reduced lead times and expanded our global network of partners. As additional raw materials come available, we’ll have an exponential increase in supplies towards the latter half of this year,” Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day said during an earnings call with analysts as the company reported its Q1 2020 results on Thursday.

“We hope to have produced enough supplies to treat over a million patients by year end. We are also working to build a global consortium of pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturers to expand global capacity and production,” he said.

Announcing the results of one of the trials, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Wednesday said that patients hospitalised around the world with COVID-19 who received remdesivir (1,063 patients in total) had a 31 per cent faster recovery rate.

In addition to this study, results of the company’s open-label Phase 3 SIMPLE trial in patients with severe Covid-19 disease demonstrated that patients receiving a 10-day treatment course of remdesivir achieved similar improvement in clinical status compared with those taking a 5-day treatment course.

Results of these two trials have raised hope that remdesivir could emerge as a possible treatment for COVID-19, leading US President Donald Trump to express his wish that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve the antiviral as soon as possible so that it can be administered against the virus.

The Gilead Sciences CEO said that it will be essential for countries to work together to create enough supply for people all over the world.

“For access and allocation, we’ll work closely with government and healthcare system to provide access. We intend to allocate our available supply based on guiding principles that aim direct global access for appropriate patients in urgent need of treatment,” O’Day said.

“We recognise there’s a lot of work left to be done and a long way to go in finding medical solutions to end the pandemic, and we’ll continue to work with regulatory authorities and the best path forward for Remdesivir,” he added.

Gilead Sciences reported that its total revenues for the first quarter 2020 were $5.5 billion, an increase of 5 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

Net income for the first quarter 2020 was $1.6 billion or $1.22 per diluted share, a decrease of 21 per cent compared to the same period in 2019, it added.

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