Gilead Sciences Inc says it has ramped up production of its antiviral brake desivir and expects to produce millions of bottles soon enough.
The California-based pharmaceutical company has announced in a statement on Thursday that the supply has increased by more than 50 times since January.
Officials say they are expected to meet “ real-time global demand ” as of October and expect to produce more than two million treatment courses by the end of the year – equivalent to 12.5 million doses.
Remdesivir has been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, after it was shown that the drug shortens hospital recovery times in a clinical trial conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Gilead Sciences says it has increased production of its antiviral brake desivir by a factor of 50 since January. Pictured: A laboratory technician holds a box of brake desivir at Eva Pharma Facility in Cairo, Egypt, June 25
More than two million treatment courses – equivalent to 12.5 million doses – are expected to be available by the end of 2020. Pictured: Nurses Catrina Rugar (second from left), Hannah Woodward (second from right) and Veronica Gomez (right) are treating a coronavirus patient in Edinburgh, Texas, July 20
Several countries, including the US, have approved the use of the treatment in critically ill patients.
However, there are concerns about the drug’s delivery, especially after the Trump administration revealed it had bought brake desivir most of the world.
To address this issue, Gilead announced that it has entered into voluntary licensing deals with nine generic manufacturers around the world.
The company says this will extend the brake desivir offering to 127 countries, most low-income and low-middle-income countries
“Gilead has completed technology transfers with these companies and they are starting the production process,” the statement said.
Remdesivir was developed for the treatment of Ebola, the deadly fever that started in West Africa in 2014.
Although it did not work in the treatment of Ebola, the drug appears interfere with the ability of the coronavirus to copy its genetic material.
In April, the NIH published the results of a study that showed remdesivir helped patients recover 31 percent faster.
Patients who received the drug improved after 11 days, four days faster than those who did not receive the drug.
However, remdesivir did not improve survival according to preliminary results after two weeks of follow-up. Results after four weeks are expected quickly.
It comes just over a month after Gilead announced it would charge different prices for different patients taking remdesivir.
For people under government health care in the U.S., the company charges $ 390 per vial or $ 2,340 for a five-day course.
For U.S. private insurance companies, the cost is $ 520 per vial, or a total of $ 3,120 per patient.
The amount patients pay out of pocket depends on insurance, income, and other factors, Gilead said.
“We are in unfamiliar territory with the pricing of a new drug, a new drug, in a pandemic,” CEO Daniel O’Day told The Associated Press.
“We believe that we should really deviate from normal conditions,” and praise the drug to ensure wide access rather than based solely on patient value, he said.
In January, Gilead took several steps to ramp up production and rapidly build the offering of our investigative COVID-19 treatment Veklury® (brake desivir), in preparation for potential global demand at risk in recognition of the long production timeline. In addition to process improvements that have shortened the production timeline to six months, Gilead has expanded its global network of both internal production sites and external organizations, including partnerships with industry peers, to add production capacity around the world. Our Veklury production network now includes more than 40 companies in North America, Europe and Asia.
By working in a coordinated manner, this network of partners supports us to meet the global needs of patients. We have more than quintupled supply since January and expect to be able to meet global demand in real time from October. We plan to produce more than two million treatment courses by the end of the year and expect to produce several million more by 2021 if needed.